It's a familiar sight -- a black and gold clad Pittsburgh Penguins hockey player, longish hair hanging out of his helmet, with a too high double-digit number, sliding through a National Hockey League defense en route to a highlight reel goal.
And last Sunday, March 25th, our Boston Bruins visited Pennsylvania and ran into the current version of the now staying-in-Pittsburgh permanently Pens and, this time, that special, downright sublime player was named Sidney Crosby.
Crosby, #87 in your program, dropped two goals and an assist on the B's, who fell 5-0.
Crosby, 'The Next One' or you may also call him 'The Wizard of Croz', if you like, returns to the TD Banknorth Garden for his final appearance of the current campaign on Thursday, March 29th, and plenty of great seats still remain.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, and the rest of the NHL, last weekend didn't mark the first instance, and it certainly won't be the last time, that a Steel Town superstar slices through a team like a circular saw through a dry two-by-four.
And much to the chagrin of most opposing fans and players alike, the Penguins have had that kind of impact player on their roster for some time. You'll remember Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux, #66, known to his friends and foes as Super Mario or, as his fellow francophones call him, Le Magnifique.
We'll just remember him as scary.
Watching Crosby tear around the ice versus the Bruins was a clear (and painful) reminder of his mentor Lemieux's regular success against Boston in his career. In 43 games against the Bruins, Super Mario had 31 goals and 42 assists for 73 total points and Sid the Kid is well on his way to being an even bigger pain in the Spoked-B's hockey pants.
This season Crosby has 35 goals, 78 assists and leads the league with 113 points. 'Sid the Kid' has only played the B's six times in his career, but in those games he has scored three goals and added six assists.
Sid, like Mario, is scary, too. Or is that Scary II.
Lemieux (who at that time was also called The Next One,) was drafted first overall by the Penguins in 1984 and earned his first score against Boston goalie Pete Peeters on his first shot and in his first shift of his first game, on Oct. 11, 1984 at 2:59 of the first period.
Of course, Boston had the last laugh when they beat the Pens 4-3.
Mario was pretty successful against everyone in the NHL through the various stops and starts of his amazing career. After all, he did finish his career with 915 games played, 690 goals, 1033 assist for 1723 points.
There are signs that Crosby may do similar damage before his time is through.
Sidney certainly had a similar start, albeit 19-years later. Crosby, selected first by Pittsburgh in 2005, scored his first goal against B's goalie Hannu Toivonen on October 8th, 2005 at 18:32 of the second period. It was a power play goal, assisted by Mark Recchi and Zigmund Palffy.
The Bruins, of course, beat Pittsburgh in OT, 7-6.
And victory will be on the real Black & Gold's' mind when the Penguins come in chasing the New Jersey Devils for the top spot in the Atlantic Division and the second spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race on Thursday.
Boston comes in smarting for from their harrowing experience on the road in Pittsburgh, and perhaps just a bit annoyed that Mr. Crosby was on the ice for the last minute of play looking for a hat trick in a 5-0 game.
Throw in the fact that Crosby's three points last Sunday were likely important factors in the Bruins having one of their toughest practices of the year on Monday -- 45-minutes, no pucks, all sprints -- and that the Boston squad were made to watch the entire game again on Monday afternoon and you have a recipe for some 'spirited' play.