He's on quite a roll but Sidney Crosby finds it hard to compare his point-scoring streak to Wayne Gretzky's incomparable run more than 25 years ago.
Crosby extended his streak to 24 games Sunday night with a goal in the Pittsburgh Penguins' 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators. That's the longest in the NHL since Mats Sundin recorded a point in 30 straight games for the Quebec Nordiques in 1992-'93.
But both streaks pale in comparison to the 51-game run that The Great One went on in 1983-'84 while with the Edmonton Oilers.
Crosby said it's way too early to compare his streak to Gretzky's run, although the five-foot-11, 200-pound centre does feel like more people are taking notice.
"That feels like it's a whole different world away, to be honest with you," Crosby said of Gretzky's streak during a conference call Monday. "At this point for me, especially the last week or two I feel like there has been a little bit more attention to it.
"I've definitely felt it but to that level (Gretzky's streak) I don't think I've realized it and probably don't feel like it's at that point. But (it's) probably getting a little bit of that feeling as far as realizing people are following it a bit more."
Crosby, 23, whose overtime goal gave Canada the Olympic gold over the U.S. at the Vancouver Games last February, has been garnering attention this season for much more than his current streak. Entering play Monday, the native of Cole Harbour, N.S., leads the NHL in goals (30) and points (61) and has led Pittsburgh (24-10-2) atop the NHL's overall standings.
And on Jan. 1, Crosby and the Penguins will square off against Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals in an outdoor game at Heinz Field. It will be the second Winter Classic appearance for Crosby, who scored the shootout winner for the Pens in a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium in the inaugural event in 2008.
However, weather is fast becoming the story in Pittsburgh with rain and a temperature around 11 C expected for Saturday's game. Those are hardly ideal conditions for the NHL to showcase a marquee contest featuring two of the game's biggest stars in Crosby and Ovechkin.
The weather has prompted suggestions the NHL might have to reschedule the game for Sunday. Crosby said it's out of the players' control.
"I'm sure plans are in place and luckily for us something we don't have to worry about a whole lot," he said. "We'll be told what we have to do, where we have to go.
"Other than that we'll prepare as if we're playing at whatever the start time is. I don't think anyone wants to be caught up thinking about the different scenarios and situations and if it's the case it has to be pushed (back) or delayed we'll react and plan accordingly."
HBO has helped create a buzz about the Winter Classic with its "24/7" series about Washington and Pittsburgh heading into the outdoor game.
Crosby has had a chance to see the first episode of the series and part of the second. He feels "24/7" has not only given fans a behind-the-scenes look at the world of pro hockey but also enhanced the sport's image.
"I think they've done a great job," he said. "I think people are getting a look at things they probably have never seen before or been close to (like) meetings, on the bench and things going on on the ice, travel, all that stuff.
"You're really getting a unique perspective on what it's like with our teams. That's pretty neat and I think it's been really great and people have enjoyed it."
And the series certainly hasn't hurt the rivalry that exists between Washington and Pittsburgh within the NHL's Eastern Conference.
"I think it has certainly grown," he said. "You look at the games we've played against them the last few years it's pretty easy to build a rivalry there.
"We're physical and they've been really close games so I think that's a pretty natural progression as far as the two teams are concerned ... I think both teams bring out the best in one another and that seemed to be pretty common throughout the matchups the last few years."