Blog Entry

Pavelski, Sharks continue to perform under radar

Posted on: February 14, 2012 1:22 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 1:33 pm
Pavelski's 22 goals are tied with Marleau, one behind Couture for the team lead. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

WASHINGTON -- The San Jose Sharks are kind of like that team they got their head coach Todd McLellan from, the Detroit Red Wings. They are there every season now. The only difference -- and it's the big one -- is getting to and winning Stanley Cups.

But like the Wings, the Sharks have that whole organization stability and continuity thing down pat. They are well on their way to a playoff berth in the eighth consecutive season and 13th in the last 14 seasons. They have won the Pacific Division every season since finishing second in 2006-07.

They have franchise stalwarts, too. Everybody knows the guys like Jumbo Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and last year's rookie star (and this year's All-Star Draft Mr. Irrelevant) Logan Couture. Guys like Douglas Murray, Ryan Clowe, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and now Dan Boyle have been there some time, too.

Oh, and Joe Pavelski. You can't forget Joe Pavelski, although it seems sometimes that people do.

Heck, he was even an afterthought in the 2005 NHL Draft. It took until the 205th overall selection -- that's the seventh round, folks -- for Pavelski's name to be called. That's when the Sharks took the University of Wisconsin star despite him being a better than a point-per-game player for the Badgers.

He's only been a key piece of their puzzle in the last half-decade or so. Particularly this season.

Pavelski had himself a game on Monday night in Washington, recording four points with two goals -- including this rather remarkable tally in the first period. It brought his season totals to 22 goals and 22 assists. He's creeping up on his career high of 25 goals with a whole lot of season left to play.

"Heck of a year," McLellan said.

McLellan has a way with words and that's as succinct and appropriate a way to put it as any.

I'm not saying people in hockey don't know who Pavelski is. That'd be rude to underestimate the knowledge of hockey fans, which is know is second to none. It's more that he just doesn't seem to get his full due. He comes down the list of names mentioned when people talk about the Sharks.

But he deserves more, particularly with the increased scoring production he's showing this year. He seems to be on his way to easily eclipsing the 30-goal mark this season.

Considering there aren't a whole lot of new faces in San Jose this season -- Brent Burns on the blueline is fresh as is Martin Havlat, but he's having a down and injury-plagued season -- it has been more about getting the chance than anything else. Kind of like just getting a chance after being drafted so late.

"Last year he spent a fair amount of time on our third line just with the way our team was built," McLellan said. "On the power play this year he's benefitted by playing with some better players -- some more creative players, pardon me, not better but more creative maybe."

He's playing more this season than he ever has, averaging 20:52 of ice time per game. It's led to increased responsibilities at both ends of the ice, not just when it comes to scoring.

"Pav is a very reliable guy at both ends of the rink," McLellan said. As much as he's reaching a career high in goals he's doing some real good things defensively as well."

Everybody's favorite stat in hockey -- plus/minus -- says that's true. He's a plus-15 this season, better than any season before. He's never been on the negative side. But you can't put too much stock into plus/minus, as we know it's a flawed statistic, doesn't really say much about the individual player.

An advanced metric that's a bit more telling is Corsi (for an explanation, here you go), and there Pavelski is a 12.93, the second highest among forwards in San Jose behind Thornton.

"I'm not surprised. He plays in all situations," Boyle said. "He kills penalties, he's a power-play guy, big-minute guy. Does a little bit of everything."

With the Sharks embarking in a nine-game, cross-continent road trip, they'll rely on all of his tools. It's the kind of stretch that will determine how the Pacific Division will play out as the Kings and to a lesser extent Coyotes and Sharks continue to lie in the weeds. If it's a struggle, the race is on.

"It's really important for us, you don't want to go 0-2 to start a road trip," Pavelski said of Monday's 5-3 win that followed Sunday's 2-0 loss in St. Louis. "You see what can happen with Chicago. It can just keep snowballing. It never gets easier on the road so you take the wins when you can get them.

"It never gets easier. That next game gets that much bigger."

The goal now for Pavelski and the Sharks is to get to that game where the stakes can't possibly be any bigger.

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For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.


Since: Feb 19, 2008
Posted on: February 15, 2012 11:11 am

Pavelski, Sharks continue to perform under radar

what do we say about them Canucks?

Nothing, because no one cares about the Canucks. I think even if they weren't a Canadian team American media outlets wouldn't care about them, due to the fact that they're really not interesting. Sure everyone hates them and they win games by diving a lot and frustrating the opponent into taking dumb penalties, but that's hardly newsworthy.

Since: Oct 8, 2009
Posted on: February 15, 2012 10:48 am

Pavelski, Sharks continue to perform under radar

So is Havlat actually back?

The Sharks are definetly a team to be reckoned with. I think everyone knew that coming into the season. They had their share of tough times this season early on. But it couldn't last long with all the talent they have. So far shipping Heater and Seto hasn't seemed to hurt them and it never hurts having an extra puck mover on the blue line (Burns). The Wings did the Canucks a big favor last season when they pushed that series to 7 and kept the Sharks travelling back and forth accross time zones. Things may be a little different if the 'Nucks and Sharks meet in this playoff year. But then who knows if we'll even get a chance to find out.

Since: Feb 15, 2012
Posted on: February 15, 2012 7:42 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Jan 4, 2007
Posted on: February 14, 2012 10:17 pm

Pavelski, Sharks continue to perform under radar

What? The Canucks get no love? especially for tossing the Sharks around last year? Come on people, if we are gonna say the Red Wings are amazing, the Bruins are hot, the Rangers are it, the Sharks are playing like numero uno.....what do we say about them Canucks?

Since: May 12, 2008
Posted on: February 14, 2012 10:00 pm

Pavelski, Sharks continue to perform under radar

Hockeybob always puts it perfectly.  Sharks fan since the puck dropped and I truly think this group of talent is the best they have ever had.  Where they seem to have lapses during games (see St. Louis the other night) they are bigger, stronger, and skate well within their system (see Caps game last night).  There are areas of their game that worry me and the playoffs age me faster than I would like each season. 
Bottom line:  the Sharks matchup well with everyone in the NHL but will have HUGE hurdles in the West.  I always type that all roads lead through Detroit.  Unfortunately, the Nucks seem to have the Sharks number over the last few seasons.  Time will tell.

Since: Dec 20, 2007
Posted on: February 14, 2012 8:57 pm

Pavelski, Sharks continue to perform under radar

Well put, Hockeybob. They are a solid franchise from top to bottom and no one thing will put then "over" the top to win Stanley is all about work hard for every bit of space, puck management, zone management, checks, goalie play, defense by the forwards, skating ability, energy, etc. Did I leave anything out? Oh yeah and scoring more goals than the other team. 

Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: February 14, 2012 4:56 pm

Pavelski, Sharks continue to perform under radar

There are one of the best run franchises in the league, but they are out west and haven't won a title so they don't get the exposure that would probably be deserved.    It's no surprise that they continue to be among the better teams in the league.

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