Battle of the best

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 5:49 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- Sidney Crosby and Corey Perry were linemates with Canada at the 2005 world junior championship, but it's hard to imagine they'll have much to do with each other tonight.

In a game that has been hotly anticipated for more than a week, the host and OHL champion London Knights square off against the Quebec league champion Rimouski Oceanic in the 2005 Memorial Cup opener at the John Labatt Centre.

But Crosby, the leading scorer in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League regular season and playoffs with Rimouski, wasn't seeing the game as a Crosby-versus-Perry match, as some have been suggesting. The Knights' Perry led the OHL in scoring in the regular season and playoffs.

"I don't come here looking for that," Crosby told a throng of reporters in the media tent adjacent to the JLC yesterday afternoon. "If that's the way it is being built, so be it. Both teams got here not based on me or him. It will come down to how our teams play, not just me and him."

Crosby has a point. For the Knights to be successful tonight in the arena where they have lost just twice since the start of the 2004-05 season, they're going to have to try to limit Crosby, and it's going to take a concerted team effort. Stopping him completely might be too much to ask, but harassing him is possible. The challenge is formidable, but the Knights weren't giving the impression they were going to be tossing and turning in their beds last night.

"There is so much hype about it," Knights forward Rob Schremp said.

"It's not like we have never played against a great hockey player before. I mean, yeah, Sidney Crosby is one of the best in the world, but so was Mike Richards (of the Kitchener Rangers) and Jeff Carter (of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds). We have done a good job shutting down guys like that all year so it's not like it's: 'Oh my God, Sidney Crosby is coming in and what are we going to do?'"

Crosby acknowledged that competing against Perry and Knights captain Danny Syvret, another teammate with Canada, will be somewhat strange. Crosby has remained good friends with both and recently contacted Syvret, a guy who knows his way around computers, when he had a problem with his machine.

"It's going to be different," Crosby said. "There is that mutual respect. You go through the world junior together and win the gold, that's something special. But someone has to lose and I am just going to go out and do my best and see what happens."

No slouch on offence himself, Perry, an Anaheim Mighty Ducks prospect, was wowed by some of the things Crosby did for Canada in Grand Forks, N.D. Perry and Crosby, along with Patrice Bergeron, formed Canada's best line.

"It gives Danny and I a little bit more perspective on what he can do because we saw unbelievable things over there," Perry said.

"Our focus right now is just try to contain him."


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