Joe Pavelski: The Greatest Hockey Player of All Time?
The Sharks traded for Brent Burns and Martin Havlat in the offseason. So what? The real story of this young season has been the incredible play of Joe Pavelski. Playing last year largely as the third line center, Pavelski tallied a career high 66 points. It was that sort of play that made Devin Setoguchi expendable in the offseason, allowing GM Doug Wilson to acquire the top 4 defenseman this team truly needed.
This year, Pavelski has taken Setoguchi's spot as the right winger on the top line with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau (who has recently been replaced with Logan Couture). Through 14 games this season, not only has Pavelski fit in on the first line, but he has been arguably the best player for the Sharks so far this year. In those 14 games, Little Joe has an awesome 9 goals and 17 points, including 5 power-play points. Those are quite good stats for 7th rounder back in 2003.
Joe Pavelski has always been considered a clutch scorer for the Sharks in the playoffs, and it appears that not only is that clutch scoring coming through in the regular season, but at a much better pace. It seems like every game, Pavelski is scoring some big goal, or making a great pass to set up a teammate for a goal. If he continues his torrid scoring, Pavs will finish the season with an unbelievable 99 points. Not that I expect that to actually happen, but don't be surprised if he does finish with north of 70 points.
Let's just hope that Pavelski doesn't pull a Cheechoo/Heatley. It seems like every player gets one, maybe two good seasons playing with Joe Thornton, then they take an unexpected nose dive in stats. Remember when Cheechoo won the Rocket Richard Trophy for scoring 56 goals, his first season playing with Thornton? Do you know where he is now? If you answered “somewhere in the St. Louis Blues system” you're correct. I have a feeling Pavelski is for real though, and for the sake of the Sharks, he needs to be.
Tonight, the Sharks take on the Coyotes, in San Jose. This will be the second time these two teams have met this season, and I'm sure Phoenix remembers quite well the drubbing that San Jose put on them in the season opener. The Desert Dogs are currently right behind the Sharks in the Pacific division with 17 points to the Sharks' 19, but the Sharks are 8-1-1 in their last ten and would love nothing more than to put more distance between them. If you plan on making any bets on goal scorers for the Sharks tonight, I would go with Pavelski, but that's just me.
Sharks Point Leaders:
*Besides Pavelski's 17 points, no real surprises there.