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Inside Joe Pavelski's red-hot playoff run

May 3, 2010, 10:30 AM EDT

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joepaid2.jpgIt’s not as if Joe Pavelski was chopped liver before this year’s playoffs. In some circles, the right handed American center was considered among the NHL’s best second centers. He can bring some decent offense (26 goals, 51 points in the regular season) with great faceoff and hustle bonuses, or so it seemed until he bumped up those expectations with his sublime playoff run.

Seriously, when you’re evoking names like Mario Lemieux (who was the last person to produce three consecutive multi-goal playoff games in 1992) and it’s not about having a bad off-season diet, you might just be onto something. I’ve already recommended that fans refer to Pavelski as “Joe Paid” instead of “Joe Pa” but I think there’s more steak than sizzle with this story. So I broke down the great eight games by the NHL’s new great 8. You might even notice in the spreadsheet below that “The Big Pavelski” put an Ovechkinian 11 shots on goal last night.

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Saying he’s on a hot streak is a ridiculous understatement. One of the things that stands out is that Pavelski isn’t skimping on the “little things” that made him a productive player before he channeled is inner Mike Bossy. His elite faceoff skills (55.2% success rate so far) remain. He’s the team’s third leading hitter. His 5+ shots on goal average shows that he’s not just in the right place at the right time, either.

It’s a point that’s being made around the hockey world right now, but Joe Thornton is benefiting greatly from the “other Joe” morphing into a playoff phenomenon. If Pavelski keeps this up, who knows how far this thing could go? The Sharks might only be “choking” on champagne from a certain silver chalice …

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