-- Team Canada coach Mike Babcock is banking on Sidney Crosby
to find some of that old chemistry he used to have with Patrice Bergeron
Crosby and Bergeron will likely start on a line along with left wing Rick Nash
when Canada opens the Olympic tournament Tuesday against Norway. When they have been together, Crosby and Bergeron have flourished.
They combined for 11 goals and 11 assists to help Canada win gold at the 2005 World Juniors in Grand Forks, N.D. At the World Championships in Riga, Latvia, the following year, the Canadians finished fourth but Crosby and Bergeron played together and were the top two scorers in the tournament, combining for 16 goals and 16 assists.
"I think it's possible (to find that chemistry again)," Crosby told NHL.com after Canada's practice Monday. "Hopefully our games haven't changed that much over the last little while and we're able to adjust pretty quickly."
When pressed, Bergeron couldn't offer an explanation as to why he seems to have something special with Crosby whenever they have played together.
"I have no idea exactly what it is, but we just seem to see each other pretty well on the ice," Bergeron told NHL.com. "He's such a great player and so well positioned on the ice. It's up to us to find each other again, find that chemistry again."
Babcock believes that can happen because Bergeron's presence should allow Crosby to play a more wide open game. Bergeron is one of the better defensive forwards in the NHL and he wins better than 57 percent of his faceoffs.
Crosby wins 56 percent of his draws, so it'll be interesting to see who takes them and will it matter if they are in the defensive zone?
"(Bergeron) is so responsible without the puck and he's such a good faceoff guy, so maybe that frees up Sid a little bit more," Babcock said. "We thought about that, but this was the first practice and I wouldn't get too carried away with who is playing with who. We are going to know our team a lot better after (Tuesday) than we do right now."
Crosby enjoys playing with Bergeron because "he's a pretty straightforward guy to play with, he's got a lot of speed and he tries to use it to the outside."
So, yeah, he hopes that chemistry returns.
"For the most part there will be a little bit of juggling, but if there isn't that's good," Crosby added. "That would be a great sign."
Wingers aside, Crosby seemed to be especially poised Monday. He knows his role in these Olympics as the face of Canadian hockey, but he won't allow himself to get swept up in that hype.
He was asked by a German reporter what it's like to be compared to Wayne Gretzky
, and Crosby said he takes it as a compliment, "but I don't try to be Wayne Gretzky
"This is just a great opportunity," he told NHL.com. "Not too many people get to be in the Olympics in their home country and for us being hockey players in a country that cares so much about the sport, that's really a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Personally that's the way I'm looking at it. I want to make the most of it and I think everyone is thinking of it the same way."
Crosby admitted that the Olympics have been on his mind for quite some time now. He was left off Canada's roster four years ago, when he was in the middle of his rookie season, but has been the poster boy for the 2010 tournament ever since.
"They've kind of crept into my mind more and more as we have gotten closer," he said, "but to have it finally here and get in the routine and get the guys together to start pushing forward, it's definitely nice to be here."
The atmosphere in the Olympic village has struck a particular chord with Crosby mainly because it's so much different than anything he has seen.
During the season he lives in Mario Lemieux
's house and in the offseason he has his own place on a private lake about 40 minutes of Halifax, N.S.
"It's fun to be surrounded by so many athletes, especially the Canadian athletes, when you're in the village," he said. "When we're not having meetings, everyone is glued to the TV, following what is going on in the other sports. We probably don't know what is going on in the other sports, but we're cheering. It's a fun community to be a part of."
Contact Dan Rosen at email@example.com