A Wisconsin native, San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski
was closely monitoring the Milwaukee Brewers’ run to the playoffs.
“It was their first playoffs in 28 years,” Pavelski said, who was not even alive the last time the Brewers reached the postseason. “C.C. (Sabathia) has to win the Cy Young for what he’s done for the Brewers to get into the playoffs, winning a couple critical games near the end of the year. He pitched them in so he’s got to be a top consideration for that.”
And what about local favorite Tim Lincecum or Arizona Diamondbacks’ Brandon Webb?
“Well, yeah I’m a Brewers fan so I want C.C. (to win),” Pavelski said with a laugh.
At least Pavelski is rooting for a Bay Area transplant as Sabathia is from Vallejo.
He may not be Sabathia on ice, but Pavelski’s teammates and coaches know he will be very important for the Sharks this season.
Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan has been using him to center the second line that includes Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo. The trio combined the night’s opening tally Sunday as the Sharks closed out the preseason with a victory over the Los Angeles Kings.
“Little Joe” is entering his third year in the NHL and expectations are high for the young forward.
“He provides us with a lot of energy, he’s in really good shape and he will be counted on greatly,” McLellan said. “Joe is a very bright, intelligent player. He’s prepared and willing to respect the game and he’s always interested in other players and how they do things. To me that tells me that he’s got a good hockey IQ.”
In addition to his hockey smarts, Pavelski is known among his teammates for his work ethic and for his tenacity.
“He works hard,” Cheechoo said. “He’s always battling and always around the puck. He is always hunting it down and always wants to get it back.”
“It’s just about bringing your game and playing every day and that was the biggest thing I learned my first year because I got a little tired at the end of the year,” Pavelski said. “The big thing last year was I played in every game and I want to take that to the next level now.”
Pavelski is enjoying the talented wings around him this year, along with the expectations the franchise now has for him.
“He’s a great guy and you know he’s always going to work hard,” Michalek said of Pavelski. “He wins all those battles. I’m happy I can play with him. He’s a great center, gives great passes and he has a great shot.”
Cheechoo agrees: “He works on his game a lot. When he has the puck, obviously we’re on offense more so that’s one way he helps out the line for sure. The puck seems to find him out there so it’s fun to be on his line. He puts a lot of pucks on nets and there are a lot of rebounds. I think we work well as a team.”
The feeling seems to be mutual between the linemates as Pavelski believes the three forwards complement each other.
“Milan brings a lot of speed and Cheech can score goals for us, he’s a shooter. It’s fun to play with good players like that,” Pavelski said. “I’m playing with a couple of great players who have proven themselves before so it’s exciting. We’re working hard and we’ve found some pretty good chemistry; we haven’t quite put the puck in (the net) like we should, but we’re getting the opportunities so I think that’s going to happen for us.”
In preparation for this year’s run at the Stanley Cup, Pavelski said that his offseason was spent mostly in the gym.
“I was trying to get stronger because guys in this league are so big, strong and fast I’m just trying to keep up and improve,” said the 24-year-old.
In addition to bulking up, Pavelski said steadiness will also play a big role in his and the team’s success this season.
“I want to be consistent,” said the center. “You’re going to get hot here and there and you’re going to get cold here and there. You don’t want to let those cold stretches to go on too long.
“Consistency is a big part and that’s a big thing with this team. We want to be in it every night, we want to win every day and we want to compete every day.”
His Brewers couldn’t pull it off, but they took a major step as a franchise in making the playoffs. Now Pavelski hopes to help the Sharks take a major step.
Sharks center Joe Thornton
will be on KNBR with Ralph and Mr. T at 5:35 PM on Monday, October 6 and Jeremy Roenick will be featured on the Ferrall Show on SiriusXM Radio at 6:00 PM.
Also, JR is doing a weekly call-in with KHTK Radio, a Sharks affiliate in Sacramento. The show begins tonight and runs every Monday at 6:30 PM.
McLellan gave his club the day off on Monday so some rest could be accrued before opening night on Thursday.
The Sharks will host Anaheim at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night. The contest will be available on CSN Bay Area with a pregame and postgame show as well.