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Penguins notebook: Babcock dismisses criticism of Crosby

| Friday, March 21, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

DETROIT — Sidney Crosby scored only one goal during the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The Penguins star, however, left quite an impression on Mike Babcock, the Team Canada and Detroit Red Wings coach.

Babcock spoke at length Thursday about his two weeks coaching Crosby, and mocked those who criticized Crosby's ordinary production.

“It was just because everyone's watching for two weeks,” Babcock said. “They were scrutinizing him if he didn't score 10 points in the first game. That meant something was wrong with him. I didn't buy it.”

Babcock, in fact, dished plenty of praise upon Crosby and linemate Chris Kunitz. Neither was especially productive in the Olympics, but Babcock said both played better than their statistics indicated.

“They dominated the tournament,” he said. “They didn't score a lot, but they dominated the tournament. They had puck possession the whole time.”

Making his case

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he believes Crosby should have won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP last season. And he believes this season's award essentially is in the bag.

“I don't think there's any question,” Bylsma said. “I'm not sure there was last year. He didn't play as many games as he would have liked. I still thought he distinguished himself as the MVP last season. This season, I don't think it's even close. I think there's no question. I think he's skating away with it.”

Letang, Bennett still skating

Defenseman Kris Letang, seven weeks removed from suffering a stroke, joined the Penguins during their morning workout and skated with authority.

Bylsma said Letang's appearance on the road trip isn't a sign that his return to the lineup is imminent, emphasizing that there is not set date for his return. Right wing Beau Bennett also took part in the morning skate and could be close to returning to the lineup. Bennett may go to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for conditioning before playing for the Penguins.

Big nomination

Josh Archibald, the Penguins' 2011 sixth round draft pick, is one of 10 nominees for the Hobey Baker Award, presented annually to college hockey's best player. He has scored 29 goals in 37 games for Nebraska-Omaha.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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