The United States and Canada are preparing for a compelling semifinal in the men's Olympics hockey tournament, and there are a few players who enter the contest on hot streaks in Sochi.
Neither team has sampled the bitter taste of losing to this point in the proceedings.
The winner will advance to the gold-medal game against the winning team from the Sweden-versus-Finland semifinals game, while the loser will be relegated to the bronze-medal game.
Canada is the defending gold-medal winner from the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, when it defeated this same U.S. team 3-2 in overtime. The two nations have been on a collision course for this rematch since the start of the tournament, and the upcoming game should live up to the hype.
Here's a look at when and where you can catch the game, followed by a closer look at the hottest players from both teams entering the contest.
When: Friday, Feb. 21, at 12 p.m. ET
Where: Bolshoy Ice Dome, Sochi, Russia
Live Stream: NBC Olympics Live Extra
USA: Phil Kessel, Forward
The Americans have been on a scoring rampage since the start of these Games, and forward Phil Kessel has led the charge. Scoring five goals and adding another three assists, which accounts for 40 percent of America's offensive production of 20 goals.
Kessel plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL, and his teammates and coaches aren't surprised by his dominance on the big stage.
“Phil has definitely taken strides here," head coach Randy Carlyle said, via Michael Traikos of the National Post. "He’s grown as a player, he isn’t a one-dimensional player as some described him previously.”
He'll need to continue putting on a show to ensure Canada doesn't continue pulling a big-brother act during Olympic competition on Friday.
Canada: Drew Doughty, Defender
Defenders aren't usually known as primary goal-scorers, but Drew Doughty has been just that for Canada during the 2014 Winter Games.
He has scored four goals thus far to lead all players on Canada's roster, adding another two assists for good measure.
TSN analyst Ray Ferraro has been stunned that much of Canada's offensive production has come by way of its two defenders, Doughty and Shea Weber:
It was Doughty who was responsible for getting past Finland in overtime during qualifiers, too. He's been absolutely clutch for the Canadians, and the team wouldn't be in a position to repeat this year without him.
USA: Jonathan Quick, Goalie
While Team USA's potent offense has been the biggest story of the tournament, it would be foolish to discount the strong goaltending being displayed by L.A. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
In four games, Quick has allowed just five goals while stopping 72 shots—a save percentage of 93.51, which is absolutely stellar.
Therefore, it was not at all surprising when USA Hockey announced Quick as the starter for the semifinal matchup against Canada:
Like he's done throughout the tournament and during his Stanley Cup run with the Kings, Quick's ability to play at his best in big games has served him and Team USA well thus far. One more excellent performance will ensure the Americans have a shot at winning gold in 2014.
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