Sidney Crosby finally will get to see tonight what Alexander Ovechkin is all about. But Crosby, who never has played against Ovechkin and has not lined up against a Russian club since peewee, refused to get caught up in anything other than looking at the gold-medal final as a whole.
"He is the first overall pick (by the Washington Capitals last June) and for sure it is going to be a big deal (to face Ovechkin)," Crosby said. "But I just want to come out with a win. I am not trying to turn this into me versus him. It's not that at all. This is more of a team thing for me."
Crosby isn't stupid.
He knows there is a good chance, although he will not be 18 until August, that tonight will mark his last appearance in a Canada uniform at the world junior. If the NHL is back in business next fall, Crosby undoubtedly will play for the team that drafts him. So he's not ready to let any of his mental preparation go to waste, which would mean thinking too much about Ovechkin.
However, many world junior observers are curious to see how Crosby and Ovechkin perform against each other.
Canada coach Brent Sutter often has been using the line of Crosby, Patrice Bergeron and Corey Perry against the opposition's top trio, so it's quite possible Crosby and Ovechkin will see a lot of one another.
Ovechkin and Bergeron are tied for the tournament scoring lead with 11 points each. Crosby is sixth with eight points.
"I am not going to get occupied with trying to go against one or two guys," Crosby said, referring to Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. "I think we are looked upon as being offensive players and that we come to play in games like these. We are both going to be ready."
Crosby also is greatly anticipating his first game against Russia. He shrugged off the reminder that Canada, in three tries, has not beaten Russia in the gold-medal game at the world junior.
"There are a lot of memories," Crosby said of the rivalry. "There's the 1972 series (which Crosby presumably has watched on tape), the world juniors in Winnipeg and Halifax. It's always a good game and a close game."