People keep saying Thornton found another gear this postseason. He figured something out or the removal of the C from his jersey made him a fresher, better player than in years past. Sharks fans know better than that.
Joe Thornton tallied three points on Monday night. That bring his 2016 postseason total to 17 in 17 games and overall playoff production to 117 points in 149 contests.
Thornton holds the eighth-highest number of postseason points among active players and Monday's performance brings him to 62nd all-time — and he's doing it in an era we keep saying doesn't have enough scoring.
This postseason didn't make Thornton a special player — he's always been a special player. Always. Not just "since he came to San Jose" and not just "in the past five years." Thornton long ago booked his ticket to the Hall of Fame because he is one of the most talented and hardest working players of his generation.
His 17 points this postseason ties his career high when he tallied 17 in 18 games in the 2010-11 campaign. On Wednesday he'll tie his mark for most games played in one postseason and, win or lose, will surpass it either in game seven of the Western Conference Finals or in game one of the Stanley Cup Finals.
In the eight postseasons hockey-reference has possession stats for (since the 2006-07 season) Thornton has posted a positive corsi-for percentage in all but the 2009-10 postseason (49.5). The numbers provide backing to what our eyes already told us: Thornton didn't get better this postseason, the Sharks did.
This may, in all truth, not be the best San Jose Sharks team to ever wade into the postseason. But this team, with all its beautiful depth, has performed better than any San Jose squad in franchise history. So now the national media finally feels like it's allowed to give Thornton the credit he's always deserved.
Winners write the history books and in sports the history books are written about the winners. That sort of perception-is-reality nonsense has Thornton painted as a player who either doesn't care enough to win to leave Silicon Valley or as a guy whose gumption just doesn't measure up to what's required to hoist Lord Stanley's cup.
None of this comes as a surprise, of course, and quite frankly I'd be lying if I said my irritation with this sort of coverage outweighs my happiness that Thornton is finally getting the love he's gotten in the Bay Area since he was traded here. Just don't bother telling us that Jumbo has changed. We know better than that. He's always been awesome, even if it took you this long to figure out.