'Elmo' tickled to get shot at post-season

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

It didn't take long for Bill Guerin to fit in.

And the veteran isn't immune to the teasing that takes place in the Pittsburgh Penguins locker-room just because of his 18 years in the NHL.

"The guys think I look like Elmo," Guerin said with a shrug as a partially deflated helium balloon of the Sesame Street character's head hovered around his stall after yesterday's morning skate.

"Just the eyes."

Guerin's eyes must have been bulging out when the trade to Pittsburgh was completed at the deadline, taking him to Steel Town from the cellar-dwelling New York Islanders.

"My initial thought was that I was very excited. This is a great opportunity for me to come to a team like this," said Guerin. "Some of the individuals we have on this team are the best in the league.

"Just the chance to play in the playoffs again is all you can ask as a player."

Doubling the 38-year-old's excitement level was the chance to play on Sidney Crosby's wing.

"He's an unbelievable player, great competitor. It's nice to be on this side with him," said Guerin, who has scored three times and earned 10 points in 10 games as a Penguin.

Crosby wears the captain's crest, but the 21-year-old is happy to have the veteran in the room for the stretch run and what he hopes is another long playoff drive.

"His experience has helped us and his play, as well," said Crosby. "He's a shooter. He's proved for a lot of years he can score goals."

Happy to leave the creativity to Crosby, Guerin feeds the playmaker in the neutral zone, then he and fellow winger Chris Kunitz wait for the puck to find its way back.

"When Crosby has his mind set on getting to the net, he's gonna get there," Guerin said with a laugh.

"I try to meet him there."

Having had the luxury of playing with great centres like Joe Thornton and Doug Weight, it's hard for Guerin to make comparisons to Crosby.

"He's just so much different than everyone else," Guerin said. "Everyone's got their own style, but he's got so many dimensions to him."

Should Guerin find himself on a different line, there's a good chance it will be with another superstar in the middle, Evgeni Malkin.

"The thing I've found about these guys is that they're extremely competitive, in a good way. It really drives them. They want to be great," said Guerin of the NHL's top two scorers.

"Geno's always on the prowl. He's always looking to make something happen every shift."

It's hard not to have fun in the Penguins lineup.

Even if it's being directed at you in the form of a bug-eyed balloon.

"I don't know, it came out of the back room. Just floated in here," said Guerin, offering up his prime suspect.

"You guys remember Matt Cooke's Vancouver days -- he's always got something going in the dressing room.

"It's always a lot of laughs."


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