The first game between Sidney Crosby and his fellow Cole Harbour, N.S. understudy Nathan MacKinnon didn't quite live up to the billing. But isn't that usually the case with anticipated games like the one between Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins against MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche on Monday?
There will be other opportunities for "Sid the Kid" and "Nate who could-be-great" to light it up when they go head-to-head in the future. But this evening belonged to 36-year-old Colorado Avalanche goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere. He blanked the Penguins 1-0 with 34 saves to notch his second shutout in three starts this season and 37th of his career.
Giguere, a Conn Smythe winner in a losing cause a decade ago and Stanley Cup winner in 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks, has been a popular player with his teammates and a good story in his stops throughout his career.
The youngest of five children grew up in a tough Montreal neighbourhood. His parents Claude, a prison guard, and Gisele, a school bus driver, gave him every opportunity to succeed in his NHL dream. And he hasn't disappointed them.
Giguere has a new lease on his hockey life this season playing for one of his childhood idols in new Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy. He also has been reunited with his mentor, goalie coach Francois Allaire.
The veteran goalkeeper has a new resident in his home in MacKinnon. The arrangement was at the behest of his wife Kristen, who is from Halifax. Giguere has enjoyed the company of his teenage teammate and his two sons have gained a star big brother.
The fact that Giguere played so well in front of not only Roy, but his other boyhood idol, Penguins owner Mario Lemieux, is not a surprise to those who know his competitive nature.
He made several big-time glove-hand saves and turned aside each of the seven shots that Crosby put on the Avalanche netminder.
It was the first occasion that the 26-year-old Crosby had been held without a point this season. The Penguins captain has been impressive with an eight-game point streak -- the longest streak No. 87 has put up to start a season -- and leads the league-scoring race with a whopping 17 points.
MacKinnon has been excellent, too. He wasn't on the ice when Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog scored his second-period winner, but the 18-year-old has a goal and seven points in his first nine games.
He has played on the Avalanche's third line with P.A. Parenteau and Jamie McGinn.
MacKinnon has struggled in the face-off circle, but Roy has protected him by limiting his defensive zone draws. He was stuck out there against Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin with just a little over six minutes remaining and lost the faceoff, but Parenteau snuck in to snatch the puck first from behind Malkin.
How does MacKinnon's start compare to Crosby in his rookie season? The Kid had two goals and 12 points after his first nine NHL games.
Fair or unfair, Crosby and MacKinnon will be compared even though there is an eight-year age difference. They're from the same hometown. They went to the same prep school in Minnesota, Shattuck-Saint Mary's. They both were dominant junior players with Crosby losing in a Memorial Cup final with Rimouski and MacKinnon winning the national junior championship with Halifax last spring.
They have the same agent in Pat Brisson and same fitness guru in Andy O'Brien. They trained together under O'Brien and along with MacKinnon's red-hot teammate this season, Matt Duchene, in the summer.
Crosby and MacKinnon were running the sand dunes on Brackley Beach on Prince Edward Island on Canada Day weekend, a few days after the Avalanche made MacKinnon the first overall selection.
MacKinnon learned right away how hard Crosby works and how competitive he is. The rookie told a story on Monday about how he was beating Crosby in a sprint up a sand dune only to feel Crosby's hand on his ankle so the Penguins captain could gain and edge and win the race.
Crosby, too, has enjoyed his friendship with MacKinnon, and he has kept an eye on the youngster's progress three weeks into the season.
"I can't say I'm totally surprised," Crosby said. "I think that there's a lot of expectations for him. Skating with him in the summer, seeing him play, I felt like he was going to be able to make that transition pretty well and he's done that. I think there's always a learning curve, but he competes hard and he wants to learn.
"To be from Cole Harbour and see someone come out of there and get drafted first overall, kind of go through the same things. I think anybody will tell you who comes from there, you're proud to be from Cole Harbour."
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