San Jose Sharks forwards Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton have thrived on the same line all season long. They have performed at elite levels, either on the same even-strength line or on the same power-play unit, for the better part of the past three seasons.
But proper recognition for this elite duo has only come recently, with the Sharks being one win away from their first-ever Stanley Cup Final berth.
Pavelski had two goals and one assist and Thornton had three assists in Game 5 against the St. Louis Blues when San Jose won 6-3 to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series. Pavelski ($8,100) and Thornton ($5,900) remain a premier DraftKings stacking option for Game 6 at SAP Center on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
The Joes have recorded common points on 12 team goals in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, making them the NHL's most productive playoff point pair. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, the Sharks have the best power-play percentage (28.3; lead NHL with 17 power-play goals in 17 games) in a single playoff (minimum 12 games) since the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1993-94 (29.7 in 18 games). Pavelski (nine power-play points) and Thornton (seven) are largely responsible.
Thornton is the setup man and Pavelski is the closer. They work hand-in-hand and are equally responsible for San Jose's postseason prowess.
Video: SJS@STL, Gm5: Pavelski redirects puck for second goal
They are not alone, either. Four of the six players League-wide with at least five multipoint games this postseason play for the Sharks. Defenseman Brent Burns leads the League with seven, Pavelski and second-line center Logan Couture have six apiece, and Thornton has five. Couture, injury-plagued for much of the regular season, has taken the next step in his NHL career with 21 points this postseason, tied with Pavelski for the League lead.
But, back to the Pavelski-Thornton duo, it is right there with the best point pairs of recent postseasons.
Last year, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks each had a point on 13 team goals in 16 games to the lead the League. Los Angeles Kings forwards Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik combined on 13 team goals in 26 games in 2014. The Boston Bruins' duos of Nathan Horton and David Krejci (15) and Krejci with Milan Lucic (14) were forces through 22 games in 2013. Horton-Krejci is the NHL's best duo of the past five postseasons, but Pavelski and Thornton still have games left to play.
With at least two games remaining, and possibly more if the Sharks advance to the Stanley Cup Final, Pavelski and Thornton could eclipse each of the aforementioned recent marks this postseason. They might be the best duo the playoffs have seen since Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks, who scored at least a point on 19 team goals in 22 playoff games in 2010.
Thornton and Pavelski's place among the elite should not surprise anyone; they formed the second-best point pair in the regular season (45 team goals with each earning a point) behind Kane and Artemi Panarin (56). Individually, Pavelski and Thornton are among the League's top 10 in regular-season scoring since 2013-14.
Pavelski is second in regular-season goals and Thornton ranks first in assists in that three-season span. That is no coincidence.
Thus, it's important to not only admire the achievements of Pavelski and Thornton this postseason, but also their body of work over the years to get the Sharks to this point.
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