Joe Pavelski is always a cherished member of the San Jose Sharks because of how smart he is on the ice. He never gets the attention that goal scorers and superstars like Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby get, but he always plays incredibly smart hockey and worked his tail off year in and year out.
He finally got a five-year extension before the season started with the Sharks, and he put up the numbers to show he deserved it. He had a career high 41 goals and 38 assists for a 79 point season. In the playoffs, Pavelski added six points in seven games.
As I said earlier, Joe Pavelski is one of the smartest players the Sharks have, and he is asked to do everything for them. He kills penalties, plays the power play, regularly takes part in the shootout, and he can play center or wing depending on what the coach wants him to do.
He is the most versatile player the Sharks have, and that makes him extremely worthy of the extension he got. This year, he put up a career high number of goals, and had arguably the quietest 40 goal season in NHL history. Seriously. Nobody is talking about the fact that Joe ended up with 41 goals.
And to add on to that, he was a +23 this year. (For those who don’t know, +/- is the rating the player gets for how many even strength goals they’re on the ice for.) He’s a brilliant defensive hockey player, and this year he proved what a two-way forward can do with his great offensive season.
Alright. I have to be honest about one thing. Yes, Pavelski did have a fantastic offensive season. But would he have had that season had Tomas Hertl not been injured?
Let me explain. Before Hertl suffered a knee injury due to Dustin Brown, he was playing on a line with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns. As we saw from Hertl’s brilliant start this year, and T.J. Galiardi’s strong play at the end of last season, there is no forward who can’t succeed with Burns and Thornton. Todd McLellan likes to mix up some lines, but the Hertl-Thornton-Burns line was the one line that consistently stayed together. After Hertl went down, they put Pavelski with the two.
When you put a great hockey player on a great line like the Sharks did with Pavelski, he will succeed on that line. And he will be the last to succeed on that line because the Sharks are moving Burns back to defenseman, but that is a story for another day. He had a fantastic offensive year as we saw. But I believe the Sharks would be much better had they put Pavelski back on the third line so they could balance out the lines and make them more consistent.
But that isn’t Pavelski’s fault. I’m just a little upset about it. It’s still fresh, ya know? The big issue I had with Pavelski’s season was his postseason. He is normally considered a fantastic playoff performer, and he had six points in seven games and a lot of bright spots. But during the Sharks embarrassing loss, Pavelski was just off. He wasn’t skating well, he was overskating pucks, and in Game 7 he never set up a play. He would just shoot. He led the team with 11 shots. He also mishandled passes. Something was just off with Pavelski.
As we just found out, that issue was a torn labrum which requires surgery. I deem that reasoning worthy, but that was still a negative on his season.
A lot of people probably expect me to choose one of the three hat tricks Pavelski had this year. But I will not. I will choose a goal that Brent Burns scored to tie the game against the Oilers. The play that Joe Pavelski made to set up this goal just shows the smart player that he is. Most hockey players would have just backhanded it to the blue line and set it up again.
Not Pavelski. He kicks it down to Joe Thornton, who feeds Burns for the goal that ties the game up. Smart hockey play by The Big Pavelski.