Penguins notebook: Bylsma's take? Crosby is clear MVP


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DETROIT -- As the NHL's 2013-14 regular season approaches its final days next month, ballots will go out to the people who choose recipients of the league's major awards.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma made it clear Thursday that if he had a vote for the Hart Trophy, which goes to the NHL's most valuable player -- Bylsma does not, because that's one of the awards for which the winner is selected by members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association -- he wouldn't hesitate to cast it for Sidney Crosby.

Crosby entered the Penguins' game against Detroit Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena as the league's No. 1 scorer with 91 points, including a team-high 33 goals.

He held a 17-point lead on Toronto's Phil Kessel and Ryan Getzlaf of Anaheim in the scoring race.

"This season, to this point in time, I don't think it's a question," Bylsma said. "There certainly are some other players who are really good players and have done some good things this year, but I think he's skating away with it."

That looks familiar

Boston has hurdled the Penguins in the Eastern Conference standings on the strength of a 10-game winning streak, which the Bruins will try to extend tonight at Colorado.

Their surge is starting to look a lot like the Penguins' 15-game run of victories a year ago.

"It's not 15 yet, but they're playing well, for sure," Penguins center Brandon Sutter said. "It's a good time of year to be hitting their stride.

"They're doing what we want to get doing. We want to start winning some games to get that first spot back."

The Penguins trailed Boston by five points before facing the Red Wings.

Impressive as the Bruins' streak has been, the Penguins know all too well that looking nearly invincible in the regular season does not necessarily translate to success in the playoffs.

Boston, remember, swept them in four games last spring in the Eastern Conference final.

"Anytime you get a winning streak like that, like we had last year or Boston has now, you gain confidence in your game and you find different ways to win games," Penguins winger Jussi Jokinen said.

"But everybody has a different opinion on how much it matters in the playoffs."

Fond memories in Detroit

Although nearly five years have passed, many Penguins haven't forgotten the evening of June 12, 2009.

And they probably never will.

That was the night they won Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, clinching the franchise's third title.

And players who were part of that team say they are reminded of it every time they enter the building.

"Once you walk in, anyone who says it doesn't [bring back memories] is lying through their teeth," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "It's always a cool feeling, knowing that this is where you won a Stanley Cup."

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury preserved the Penguins' 2-1 victory with a desperation save on Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom as time expired, and smiled broadly when asked if coming here inspires flashbacks of that Game 7.

"Good memories, every time you come back," he said. "You don't forget things like that."

On the rise

Penguins prospect Josh Archibald is one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker award, which goes to the outstanding player in college hockey.

He was a sixth-round draft choice in 2011.

Archibald is the No. 2 goal-scorer in the nation, with 29 in 37 games. He trails only Johnny Gaudreau of Boston College, widely regarded as the Baker favorite.

Archibald's goal total includes six winners and eight power-play goals.


Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.

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