Joe Pavelski has history as a big-game player. His brilliant performance during the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs helped propel the Dallas Stars to the Final series. Now, as he begins his second season with the Victory Green Gang, the 36-year-old center appears to be extending that sharp upward scoring trajectory into a scorching early-season run.
It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, writes The Athletic’s Saad Yousuf – but Pavelski’s hot streak is coming at an especially opportune time. Yousuf devotes much of his 20/20 wrap-up of the Stars - Nashville Predators series to Captain America’s dominance:
Last season, Pavelski had his lowest point total in any non-lockout season since his rookie year in 2006-07. He scored 31 points in 67 games in the regular season before picking things up dramatically in the playoffs, scoring 19 points in 26 games during the Stars’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. At the time, it seemed like it was classic Pavelski, showing up for the big games in the postseason. But perhaps it was a turning of the page, with chemistry finally clicking in Dallas after 13 years in San Jose.
“Definitely coming back during the bubble was something, we got off to a good start and worked on a few things,” Pavelski said. “Whether I’m more comfortable the second time around, it’s hard to say exactly. But I definitely have some confidence. I definitely have an idea of what we’re trying to do out there and things are clicking right now.”
That’s even more fortuitous now that Jamie Benn is a game-time decision. With the captain possibly out against the Detroit Red Wings, it looks as if Jason Dickinson will stay on the top line as the left wing for Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov:
“I think it’s pretty simple with them; get them the puck and let them skate,” Dickinson said. “You give them the puck in the right areas, they’re going to be able to beat guys one-on-one. I got to play off of that and let them play their game and I’ll play my game of coming in later and being the more defensive-minded aspect of that line. I also can’t hold back with them. I’ve also got to be able to attack with them and not leave it all up to them.”
Dickinson is naturally a center and has made it clear that’s his preferred position. However, he’s one of the most versatile players on the Stars roster over the past two seasons and can fit in anywhere. He got a good run playing on the wing during the bubble when the Stars were bombarded with injuries to their forwards. Injuries once again have prompted Dickinson to the wing.
There’s more behind the paywall, including observations on Ty Dellandrea’s emergence and Anton Khudobin’s steadiness. [The Athletic DFW]
Pavs’ hotter-than-July performance against the Predators got the league’s attention.
Want to help the Dallas Stars Foundation’s Most Valuable Teacher win all-NHL honors? Click on Fondrae Townsend’s headshot at Future Goals’ Teacher of the Month page. [NHL]
Want to check out some photos from the weekend? Of course you do.
Around The Leagues
It was all quiet in the Earth 2 #MurderDeathKill Division last night – but the Central’s COVID problem has become everyone’s issue in a very real way.
The NHL's Central Division is being squeezed by COVID postponements. Schedule now calls for:— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 25, 2021
Florida to play remaining 54 games in 102 days
Dallas to play remaining 54 games in 104 days
Carolina to play remaining 53 games in 100 days
Tampa to play remaining 52 games in 102 days
How does the league battle the virus outside of the bubble environment? It begins with players holding each other accountable – and fighting off their own “COVID fatigue.”
While league infection numbers may be small, virus has changed players lives. https://t.co/rKPw8HOp73— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) January 26, 2021
Breaking News: In a Finnish publication Iltalehti, they say “inside sources” claim the #CBJ Patrik Laine wanted out of #GoJetsGo because of mistreatment by Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Paul Maurice. Full statement below pic.twitter.com/IzdKxiYn6V— Hockey Hound (@HockeyHoundShow) January 25, 2021
Will the Jets’ problem child become the Columbus Blue Jackets’ living legend? Matt Larkin ponders the question.
Can post-trade Patrik Laine become post-trade Brett Hull?— Matt Larkin (@THNMattLarkin) January 25, 2021
There are plenty of career similarities, but Laine has to overcome some key differences in his new situation:https://t.co/ojnanUjSVr
George Armstrong was one of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 100 greatest players of all time, and his Ojibway heritage made him one of the NHL’s first Indigenous players.
The @leafsalumni are saddened to learn of George Armstrong’s passing earlier today. George spent his entire NHL career with the @mapleleafs, served as captain for 12-seasons and won four Stanley Cups before being inducted into the @HockeyHallFame in 1975. #TMLA #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/FY3Z6RWAO8— Maple Leafs Alumni (@LeafsAlumni) January 24, 2021
Yesterday was a big day for Rick Bowness. Happy birthday, coach!