Joe Pavelski is having a Conn Smythe-worthy postseason for the San Jose Sharks, with 5 goals and 3 assists, including two game-winning goals, and a plus-6.
Joe Thornton is having a Joe Thornton-worthy postseason for the San Jose Sharks, with zero goals, 3 assists and a minus-4.
Being that they're both named "Joe," it invites a juxtaposition that's been well-explored by media and fans since the Sharks advanced: That San Jose is the Big Pavelski's team now instead of Jumbo Joe's.
Does that coronation of one Joe, and denigration of the other, make Pavelski uncomfortable?
"No, I don't think so," he said in a chat with reporters today. "Obviously in this first series, something we talked about [was] overcoming ... it didn't really matter how we got there. We just wanted to win. In other years, he's led the way at times. It was just important that we won and we found a way, however it got done. We're just happy to be moving on to the next round."
(And before you snark about that "he's the led the way at times" comment, keep in mind Thornton was a point-per-game playoff player in 2007, which was Pavelski's rookie year.)
Pavelski also talked about the Colorado Avalanche giving the Sharks hell as a No. 8 seed. Was there a collective exhale when San Jose survived the series?
"By no means was it a sigh of relief," he said. "A lot of work went into that series. If you look at the first couple of games and a couple of the games we lost, putting up 50 shots ... we invested quite a bit physically, and it paid off at the end. We didn't take any nights off. It was encouraging there, and it was one of the obstacles we wanted to overcome. Putting the hard work in, and seeing where it gets us."
In that sense, the first round was a proving ground for this team. Haul ass, bounce back from adversity and don't allow a lesser opponent to extend the series to an elimination game. The Sharks passed those tests; and now comes a tougher exam. Pavelski noted that San Jose hasn't escaped the second round since he's been in the NHL.
"It's new territory. It only gets harder. The mental side of the game is really important for us," he said. "A good start will go a long way. The first game is important. We haven't won one of those in a while."
The last time the Sharks won a Game 1? April 26, 2007. Against the Detroit Red Wings, who eliminated them in six. Think San Jose might have a few players watching Game 7 intently tonight?