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Talbot looking forward to on-ice rivalry with Crosby

by Adam Kimelman /
Maxime Talbot got used to seeing a lot of Sidney Crosby during their six seasons as teammates with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

They would practice together, their locker stalls were right next to each other, they even shot a television commercial together for Reebok.

Talbot likely will see a lot more of Crosby on Sunday, when Talbot's new team, the Philadelphia Flyers, visits the Pittsburgh Penguins (12:30 p.m., NBC) in a game that could be a precursor to a first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series.

"It's going to be a fun time. Playing the Penguins has been fun for me this year, the three games. I'm sure for the rest of my career it's going to be special."
-- Flyers' forward Maxime Talbot on facing his former team

This won't be Talbot's first trip back to Pittsburgh -- he got the emotions out of the way Dec. 29, when he had a goal in a 4-2 Flyers win -- but this will be his first game against his good friend Crosby.

The relationship goes back to when both were teens -- a summer camp run by their mutual agent, when Talbot was 16 and Crosby was 13.

Even then, Talbot said, he knew there was something special about Crosby.

"He already had this fire in his eyes," Talbot told

Talbot saw that fire up close when both reached the NHL during the 2005-06 season. During their time together, they went to a pair of Stanley Cup Finals, winning it in 2009.

When Talbot signed with the Flyers this summer, he knew it meant as many as six regular-season games against Crosby and the Penguins this season; however, because of injuries to both players, this will be the first time they'll see each other on the ice.

So for Talbot, this game will be a bit more emotional.

"We've definitely talked since I've left, kept in touch," Talbot said. "The games we played against the Penguins, we saw each other in the hallway. He's still a friend. … We're both guys that are competitors and we're going to compete."

Talbot has competed at a career-best rate this season. He has personal-bests of 18 goals and 30 points while playing mostly on the third and fourth lines. Lately he's been playing on the team's checking line, alongside rookies Sean Couturier and Zac Rinaldo.

Talbot and Crosby, who were teammates for six seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, will clash Sunday for the first time since Talbot's departure to Philadelphia. (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images Sport)
That means Talbot likely will see a lot of Crosby on Sunday.

"He's the best player in the world, so it's always a big challenge when you have to play against him," said Talbot. "I'm excited, that's for sure."

Talbot said there really isn't much advice he can give to his teammates about how to defend Crosby, only saying it's a five-man job.

"You play against him the way you're going to play against most good players," he said. "He's one of the most complete guys out there. You try to always have an eye on him, play him tight, but not only one guy can contain him. You have to play good defense, the five guys on the ice have to be aware of where is and how strong he is. The first few years he was a playmaker, making guys around him better. Now he's more of a shooter and you have to be more aware of the pass and the shot."

Talbot said he's trying to treat his first on-ice encounter with his good friend as just another game.

"It's still the Pittsburgh Penguins, they're still a good hockey team," he said. "For us as a team, it's a challenge. We might play them in the playoffs, so it'll be a huge challenge for us. It's going to be a fun time. Playing the Penguins has been fun for me this year, the three games. I'm sure for the rest of my career it's going to be special."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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