Four years ago, Canada entered the Vancouver Olympics in desperate need of a gold-medal win on home soil after a disappointing 2006 tourney had cost the nation its status as hockey's preeminent power. Under tremendous pressure, the team delivered a thrilling overtime win over the Americans in 2010 to do just that.
This year, the pressing need for a win to secure Canada's status as a hockey power is distinctly less, but the challenge is likely to be even greater as the Canadians travel to Sochi to face European teams schooled in big-ice play and a Russian team in particular that is under much of the same tension that Canada was in Vancouver.
Canada has managed eight gold medals in men's ice hockey in its Olympic history, and in the four best-on-best tournaments featuring NHL players, it has alternated between winning gold and finishing outside the medal round. If the pattern continues, Canada will miss the podium in Sochi, but if the Canadians can win gold again, they will have won a majority of Olympic tournaments featuring the best players in the world.
Read on for everything—from key storylines to the depth chart to the TV schedule—that any fan needs to know in preparation for these games.