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WATCH LIVE: Men’s hockey debuts with games featuring Jaromir Jagr and Henrik Lundqvist

Sochi Olympics Ice Hockey Men

Czech Republic forward Petr Nedved, left, jokes with forward Jaromir Jagr during a training session at the Bolshoy Ice Dome at the the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Julio Cortez

The U.S. men’s ice hockey tournament kicks off with two games at noon, including a star-packed affair between the Czech Republic and Sweden.

Czech Republic vs. Sweden: 12 p.m. ET – CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Latvia vs. Switzerland: 12 p.m. ET – CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Sweden is a legitimate medal contender, with their 2006 gold providing a strong argument that they should be considered a threat to win it all. They have plenty of headliners in goalie Henrik Lundqvist and forwards Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel (but not Henrik) Sedin and Daniel Alfredsson. Many are actually most excited about the team’s defense, as young Swedes Erik Karlsson and Oliver-Ekman Larsson could be dynamic on a larger ice surface.

The Czech Republic is loaded with NHL talent, even if team officials made some curious decisions here and there. (Petr Nedved might be a surprise inclusion for some considering his lengthy absence from North America.) Future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr will enter his fifth Olympics alongside quality forwards Patrik Elias, Tomas Plekanec and David Krejci.

Latvia has its fair share of lower-level NHL players, but the Swiss would enhance the impression that they have dark horse potential by winning this game by a significant margin.

Goalie Jonas Hiller is Switzerland’s best hope for upsets while the future looks bright with the likes of Damien Brunner, Nino Niederreiter and Roman Josi just entering their prime years.

Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins