Inside Joe Pavelski's red-hot playoff run

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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    Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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    Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

    McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

    With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

    1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
    2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
    3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
    4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

    As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

    Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

    The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

    Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

    Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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    Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

    Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

    McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

    Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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    The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

    They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

    The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

    Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

    The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

    The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

    Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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    Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

    Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

    Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

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    The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.