At the beginning of the season I predicted that Joe Pavelski would not only lead the Sharks in goals, but also the NHL. So far the Plover, Wisconsin native has made me look quite good, netting 9 goals in 13 games to lead the Sharks and finds himself tied for fifth in the league in goals despite having played fewer games than each of the other leaders. This has likely led all of you many of you to ask yourselves: “Why is Rob so good at predicting stuff? How did he know the man known in local circles as the Big Pavelski (aka Pav, aka Pavs, aka Lil’ Joe, aka Captain America, aka One of the most under rated players in the game) would be in the Rocket Richard trophy hunt?” It’s quite simple really: if Johnathan Cheechoo can score 50+ goals playing with Joe Thornton for the majority of a season, Joe Pavelski can probably DEFINITELY score 50+ goals. But wait, there’s more.
Sure, playing with Jumbo Joe can’t hurt your prospects to score goals. Thornton has cemented his name alongside the likes of Francis and Oats as one of the most prolific set up men of all time. But there is much more to Pavelski’s success than the passing prowess of Thornton. Pavelski can score every type of goal known to the hockey world. Three goals in particular from this season show Pav’s unique skill set, which can help us understand why he may very well score 50+ goals this season.
11/5 v. Nashville: Finding the soft spots
This is undoubtedly a terrific all around play by Thornton, Couture and Pavs. Without the work of his linemates, Pavs never would have put this one in, but he did, somehow, find himself alone on the doorstep. Why? Because Pavs has the ability to find the soft (unoccupied) spots on the ice. Anyone can find a soft spot, but they’re it often entails distancing yourself from the puck or going to the non-scoring areas. Pavs has the uncanny instinct to find these soft spots while still being around the puck and in scoring position. You’ll be hard pressed to find a player in the league that puts himself in a better position to be successful than Pavelski. This is just one example of many.
10/31 v. NYR: Going to the dirty areas on the ice
There are a lot of snipers in the league that seemingly refuse to go to the front of the net (see Alex Semin), but Pavelski is not one of them he has the poise and physical ability to fight off defenders, corral rebounds, and deposit the puck in the back of the net for the dirty goals.
10/22 v. Boston: the most under appreciated shot in the NHL
Newsflash: Joe Pavelski is a sniper. NHL, take note (or don’t, but don’t say I didn’t tell you so). This was the type of goal that we (Sharks fans) have come to expect from Pavs, yet it seems to take the rest of the league by surprise every time. To put this shot in perspective let’s take a look at some of the circumstances. Tim Thomas, one of the most aggressive goalies against shots, is in net. Thomas gives up goals, like any goalie, but they are mostly due to either bad rebounds or over aggressiveness and getting beat by passes. Rarely will you see Thomas get beat top glove. From beyond the top of the circle. With little to no screen (note: I can’t find an angle that shows just how much Thomas’s view was obstructed by his defenseman). That being said, you won’t see many goals scored on pure shots like this one in the NHL, and goals like this will only be a small portion of the ones Pavs scores this season.
Pavs possesses a unique, possibly special blend of skills and smarts that Sharks fans have appreciated for years now. The last few years, while playing mostly on the 3rd line, Pavs has been incredibly productive. The combination of more ice time and better linemates that comes with the move to the top line should only boost his production. At the current rate of production, Pavs is on pace for about 57 goals this season. Can he keep it up? If he’s playing with Couture and Thornton, I definitely think so.
The New(ish) Debate
Chicken or the egg? Pepsi or Coke? Chocolate or Vanilla? Connery or Moore? Ah, the existential questions. If you need the answers, I’ve got them (a. Why on earth is this relevant? b. Coke, c. Chocolate, d. Moore [fuck you all]). But recently, a more relevant question has surfaced and begun to occupy a disproportionate amount of my brain’s activity: Taylor or Tyler Justin or Jason? What does he mean? Bournes? Does this have something to do with that Beiber fellow? Are you seriously comparing Jason Aldean to Justin Moore? No. No I am not. I am talking of course about masseurs Justin Braun and Jason Demers (Parlez vous Francais? No.).
In all seriousness, this is becoming the story to watch for me in the Sharks organization. McLellan’s actions have made it quite clear that it is one or the other and not both. I assume he categorizes both Demers and Braun as offensive d-men and thus views playing them together as potentially creating a defensive liability (because Colin White clearly is not…), which God knows Brent Burns alone provides more than enough of on the back end. That reasoning makes sense, so it logically follows that the Sharks are going to have to choose one. My vote? Braun. Statistics from this (and last) season suggest that Braun is a better choice, but beyond that, if you watch the Sharks there are times when Braun straight up balls. He is easily one of the best skaters on the team and his shots rarely get blocked. The one thing Demers brings to the table that Braun lacks is grit, but Braun makes up for that in his smart play in the d-zone and excellent first pass.
We should know how this transpires in the next few weeks, and if Demers doesn’t get much playing time in the next few weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him moved.
– Nationals Catcher Wilson Valdez was kidnapped. If the kidnappers are reading this (likely not): I’m seriously you guys. That’s messed up. Uncool. Not to make light of a seriously messed up situation. It makes me wonder if teams are going to start to institute “living” clauses in to contracts to place restrictions on where their players can live;
– The Jerry Sandusky saga is seriously messed up and allow me to be one of the very last to say it’s a tough way to see JoePa go, but go he must;
– Did you know that Pilgrims and Indians are actually aliens that consistently battle over the stuffing mines and that Thanksgiving is actually to celebrate a treaty between the two? You do now. If you don’t get that one, watch the History Channel Comedy Central for once.
– My former linemate Jeff Ryan (for about 10 games due mostly to injury) is a regular for Brown. By transitive property this makes me one injury away from being a regular D-1 hockey player;
– I don’t know who will win the Super Bowl, but I can tell you it will not be the Colts;
– The 49ers are 7-1. Shoot me. On that note:
– Things that fucking bother me in no particular order:
- Stanford athletics
- San Francisco’s professional sports teams – shave your stupid beard asshole – you know who you are
- Hipsters – self explanatory
- The “Occupy” Movements – When I say go do something about it I did not mean go sit in a park all day. Some of the messages coming out of the movement are great, and it’s nice to see my generation activating, but the efforts could be much more efficacious.
- The SEC bias – I’m just not sold
- Basketball, specifically LeBron James (What should I do?)
- Milbury and McGuire – Not sure who to give the edge to, but for now I’ll go with Milbury based on his shear imbecile-ness.