Corey Perry, Canada: One of the NHL's best least-known players, the 6-3, 210-pound two-way center for the Anaheim Ducks creates matchup problems for Canada's opponents. While the European teams will game plan for stopping Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla and the rest of Canada's high-powered stars, it would not be surprising if Perry (pictured) pots a game-winner or two next week.
Tomas Plekanec, Czech Republic: The shifty center is having the best season of his four-year NHL career with the Canadiens, but is still unheralded outside of Montreal. An Olympic breakthrough by Plekanec is important for the Czechs, who play Slovakia in the late game Wednesday night.
Jarkko Ruutu, Finland: A one-man shift disturber, Ruutu has an unique ability to grate. Even when they are warned about the Minnesota Wild forward in their coach's pregame speeches, the game's great players are susceptible to his "charms." If he stays under control -- a relative term for him -- Ruutu can provide Finland some much-needed power play time.
Denis Grebeshkov, Russia: The top six forwards for Russia are so breathtaking and their goalies so accomplished that everyone zeroed in on the blueline as the weakness. Then the game started late Tuesday night and you realized that with Andrei Markov, Anton Volchenkov, Sergei Gonchar and Fedor Tyutin, the defense was underrated. If the 26-year-old Grebeshkov, a strong all-zone defenseman with the Oilers, can shine in Vancouver, it would go a long way towards getting Russia to the gold medal game.
Jaroslav Halak, Slovakia: With Marian Gaborik expected to miss at least the first two games with a leg laceration, the underdog Slovaks face an uphill battle against the Czechs late Wednesday night. Giving them their best chance is Halak (pictured), who is in the midst of a season-saving run for the Montreal Canadiens. More than any of the top national teams, Slovakia needs near-perfection over these two weeks from Halak to medal.
Samuel Pahlsson, Sweden: One of the NHL's best defensive forwards of the last decade, Pahlsson has toiled in anonymity this season with the struggling Blue Jackets. However, he has been known to be inspired by a challenge, and they don't come any bigger than centering Sweden's checking line against the game's most dynamic offensive stars. Based on his history, the Swedes can rely on Pahlsson.