Comparison ends at Cup rings

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- He has lived at Mario Lemieux's house, regularly dined in the company of the Magnificent One, even played with Mario's kids.

Now, after years of being mentioned as a future Lemieux or Wayne Gretzky, another comparison has arisen for Sidney Crosby.

Given their dominant performances in the 2009 playoffs, Pittsburgh Penguins teammates Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are sparking memories of another dynamic hockey duo that once dominated Steeltown, Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, the key cogs who led the Pens to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and '92.

Malkin and Crosby occupy the top two spots in post-season scoring right now, Malkin leading with 28 points, Sid The Kid right behind with 26. Together, they form the major reason why the Penguins lead the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final, which could end tonight with a Pittsburgh win in Game 4 at the RBC Center.

For No. 87, however, there is one significant difference between the Crosby-Malkin tandem and Lemieux-Jagr.

The jewelry.

Lemieux and Jagr have Cup rings.

Malkin and Crosby don't.

Those guys, like Gretzky and Mark Messier, "won championships," Crosby said yesterday. "And we haven't done that.

MUCH TO PROVE

"It's a compliment but we still have a lot to prove, so we've got to keep doing the same things."

Such as winning.

"I think for me, I can only speak for myself, but I've dealt with comparisons for a long time and things like that," Crosby said. "It's a compliment but I don't want to read a whole lot into it.

"We want to make sure, as far as myself and Geno go, that we're contributing. And if we're looking at that, we're doing something right. I don't think we need to change anything but it's a compliment."

In their quest for a first Stanley Cup, Crosby and Malkin are joining some elite names on the career playoff points-per-game list. Only Gretzky and Lemieux rank higher than Crosby and Malkin.

All that remains is the title. But Crosby warned the Pens can't look too far ahead.

"We've put ourselves in a good position, sure," Crosby said. "But nothing can be taken for granted. (Carolina) is going to come out hard.

"We have to assume they are going to play their best game."


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