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Captain Canada ready to hoist another trophy

TORONTO -- Sidney Crosby has won the World Juniors, the World Championships, the Olympics and the Stanley Cup. Thursday night in Air Canada Centre, he gets a chance to add the World Cup to his glittering resume as Team Canada tries to sweep the best-of-three series from Team Europe.

"It's exciting as a player to be in those situations," Crosby said Thursday after his team's pregame skate. "It's not every day you get to be in those type of scenarios. I think with each one you gain more of an appreciation for it and understand that there's only a short window to be a hockey player in the NHL and not everyone gets those opportunities.

"You just try to make the most of them and have fun with them but there's always a heightened sense of anticipation on those days. That's why you love to play the game for big games like that."

Nobody has been better in this World Cup than Crosby, who has picked up right where he left off in June in leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to the second Stanley Cup of his career. Crosby leads all players in the tournament in nine points and his line with the Boston duo of Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron has been the most dominant one of the eight teams.

Marchand said it's been a relief to not be chasing Crosby around the ice.

"When you play him, you're not so much worried about scoring that night as you are trying to shut him down," Marchand said. "So it's a lot of fun being on the other side of it where he's going to make plays and you're going to get opportunities."

Marchand laughed when asked about players' perceptions at the start of last season that Crosby's game was slipping.

"There might have been questions outside of the league about Sid but you talk to any player in the league, there's no one that can compare to Sid," Marchand said. "In hockey, bounces don't always go in and plays aren't always scored. It can be a matter of inches. To think things were going to be perfect all the time, they won't be. You always knew Sid was going to bounce back from a tough start for his standards. The way he was able to rebound was just a phenomenal second half. There's no question he's the best player in the world."

Crosby said he understands Team Canada has to play better than it did in the 3-1 victory in Tuesday's opener. By the end of the night, he could be called to center ice to raise a trophy. He has some experience in this area.

"If you look at each one, it's kind of different. That's how I look at them," Crosby said. "They're special, they're different. The biggest thing is that excitement, that joy doesn't change with any of them. It's all the same that way. You work hard. As a group you try to get to that point and to accomplish that is special."

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