Each 2014 Olympic Hockey Contender's Key Difference-Maker

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Each 2014 Olympic Hockey Contender's Key Difference-Maker
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Which players will be most critical at the Winter Olympics in Sochi? It is a highly competitive tournament where up to seven teams have great goaltending and elite top lines.

For each nation, the difference between winning gold and going home with nothing can often fall largely on the shoulders of a single key player.

Finding these key difference-makers requires a fundamental understanding of the makeup of each team, including their strengths and weaknesses. In each case, there's a primary role on which their medal hopes rest, whether that's the ability to score goals, stop the puck or shut down a key opponent.

Only the top seven contenders for a medal are included on this list and they will be reviewed in alphabetical order by country name. Each slide will feature the player in that critical role, the credentials that they bring to it and their potential impact.  

One of the following seven players will likely determine the winner of the gold medal in Sochi. Read on to begin with the hero of the previous Winter Olympics.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all advanced statistics come from the writer's own original research.

 

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