The Morning After: Appreciating the greatness of Joe Pavelski
Another goal for Joe Pavelski helped the Sharks to a 2-0 series lead.
Joe Pavelski got San Jose out to a lead the team never relinquished on Saturday, putting the Sharks out to a 2-0 lead. You already know that, of course, because you're here. Pavelski has long been a hero for the Sharks, the 205th pick in the 2003 draft one of the shrewdest selections in San Jose's history.
Now the Big Pavelski (or Little Joe...or Shrimp Joe, as @wholegrainne likes to say) has three goals in two games and is a big part of the reason the Sharks are in command of the series heading back to SAP Center on Monday. Pavelski, like many of the San Jose Core, is easily taken for granted. He has 58 points in 82 playoff games and 563 in 725 NHL regular season games — not too shabby for a guy who was never supposed to get this far.
So much of captaincy talk revolves around stuff we'll never get a good handle on. In his first season with the C we've seen Paveslki continue to do what he's always done while Joe Thornton has enjoyed something of a resurgence without the "pressure" of a leadership role thrust upon him. Correlation does not necessarily imply causation, but since the team seems to have kept its act together this season I think it's okay to give Pavelski a bit of credit in his first season wearing a letter.
Where Pavelski erases doubt is on the ice. He was a +4 in corsi, despite the Kings (eventually) out-possessing the Sharks on the evening. While it's difficult to separate Pavelski's contributions from Thornton's, it's undeniable that the pair deserves plenty of credit for getting the Sharks to where they are now. Matched almost exclusively against the Anze Kopitar line, the Joes have more than answered the bell — they've dominated.
This shot by Pavelski beat Quick, though Tomas Hertl attempted to get a stick on it. This isn't exactly the typical Pavelski goal. While Thornton did pick up an assist on this goal (very typical), Pavelski did almost all the work to make this happen. He's nowhere near his office, somewhere closer to the net looking to get a tip, but he looks perfectly comfortable picking his spot and sniping it home.
Pavelski earned an assist on this by taking a not-super-terrific shot that created a big ole rebound for Logan Couture. Still, this is the fourth point of the series for Pavelski, who has points on all but two of the Sharks' goals. For the Sharks to win this series, Pavelski and the rest of the top unit will need to be factors — so far so good on that note.
While Thornton is still the most important player on this team, Pavelski once again proved what a key part of the puzzle he is to this Sharks team. If San Jose hangs on to win this series, Pavelski deserves plenty of credit.