SAN JOSE (KTVU) - Like a fine Bay Area wine, Joe Pavelski is getting better with age.
“When he gets his chance he usually doesn't miss,” says defenseman Justin Braun.
“It might be the best hockey he's played since I've been here,” adds Head Coach Peter Deboer.
The 34-year old is on pace to shatter his personal mark for goals in a season. His 11 in November – a Sharks’ franchise record. So what’s come over him?
“Think he changed the way he taped his stick maybe, I don't know,” quips forward Kevin Labanc.
Pavelski has a more conventional explanation.
“I feel strong out there, I feel like my skating has kept getting better. I have a good understanding of what my best game looks like.
Truth is, his game has looked really good for a really long time. Over the last 8 seasons, only three NHL players have more goals than Pavelski.
He’s not only captain of the Sharks, he was Captain America at the 2016 World Cup. Yet somehow he remains an “under the radar” superstar.
“We're kinda tucked away in SJ, so we don't get as much attention as other teams,” says goaltender Martin Jones.
“My parents are probably the only people on the East coast who stay up to watch games,” adds forward Joe Thornton.
“When you go and play Toronto, Montreal, the New Yorks, people are like, ‘Wow that Pavelski guy is really that good,’” says defenseman Brenden Dillon. “He's every bit that good.”
“He's a very humble person, not looking for any spotlight,” says forward Timo Meier. “The recognition he gets is from his teammates, we have a lot of respect for him.”
With all the elite numbers Pavs has put up over the years, he does some of most important work in the Sharks’ dressing room. This is his 4th season as team captain, and he is the perfect fit for that role.
“Pavs is everything you want in a captain,” says Dillon. “Whether you're a guy called up for your first hockey game or like Jumbo you're playinig in your 1600th, he's able to connect with you, he takes his time to get to know his teammates. As vocal as he can be, he's a lead by example guy.”