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The Morning After: Who benefits most from Joe Thornton's passing?

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Trick question, it's all of us. And also this guy.

Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Thornton is having himself some season. The veteran center now has 50 points in 55 games and has been on fire as of late, recording points in six-straight games and 24 of his last 26 contests. I know what you're thinking — "but Jake, arbitrary end points!"

Yeah, well...whatever, nerd. Here's a chart showing how his points-per-60 has improved over the course of the season.

Yeah, that's pretty good. His two assists last night were absolutely otherworldly. In other words, they're the kind of pass we've become all but accustomed to seeing from Thornton game in and game out. This pass to Melker Karlsson in particular is an absolute beauty.

Woof. So this Thornton wizardry got me thinking: who has the most goals scored on Thornton assists since Jumbo became a Shark? I had a top three in mind, but wanted to find out for myself. The process was long and boring, but the results are actually pretty interesting. I counted only primary assists, mostly because secondary assists aren't worth a whole lot. So the winner is...

Patrick Marleau! Which isn't much of a surprise since the two have been teammates the longest. But now with the Thornton-Joe Pavelski combination getting so much action, I thought perhaps he'd give Marleau a run for his money. The chart above lumps everyone below Marc-Edouard Vlasic into that big ole "other" piece of the pie. They're important, too...just not as important as everyone else.

For those looking for the full chart:

Patrick Marleau 68
Jonathan Cheechoo 56
Joe Pavelski 46
Dany Heatley 26
Devin Setoguchi 23
Brent Burns 22
Milan Michalek 21
Dan Boyle 18
Logan Couture 12
Marc-Edouard Vlasic 9
Ryane Clowe 7
Rob Blake 6
Melker Karlsson 5
Tomas Hertl 5
Christian Ehrhoff 4
Jeremy Roenick 4
Scott Hannan 4
Mike Grier 3
Steve Bernier 3
Benn Ferriero 2
Brian Campbell 2
Jason Demers 2
Kyle McLaren 2
Mark Bell 2
Matt Irwin 2
Brad Stuart 1
Brand Winchester 1
Chris Tierney 1
Craig Rivet 1
Curtis Brown 1
Derek Joslin 1
Douglas Murray 1
James Sheppard 1
Josh Gorges 1
Mark Smith 1
Martin Havlat 1
Matthew Nieto 1
Nikolay Goldobin 1
Ryan Vesce 1
Sandis Ozolinsh 1
Torrey Mitchell 1
Ville Nieminen 1

I know what you're thinking (again): Yes, Douglas Murray scored a goal for the Sharks. I know, I'm having trouble coming to terms with it myself. Other surprising things about this list include Brent Burns not yet overtaking Devin Setoguchi now that he and Thornton spend so much time on the power play together. He's now just one goal away from surpassing Setoguchi, while Pavelski is closing in on Cheechoo.

In a way it's perfect that Marleau and Thornton have this connection between them. It'll make a great note on their co-statue after they both retire together, have their numbers raised together and raise the Stanley Cup together this summer.

What? We can dream.