When the NHL season starts, it will have been exactly four months since the culmination of the Stanley Cup final and four months since the San Jose Sharks skated off of SAP Center ice following the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Stanley Cup victory.
But even though one-third of a calendar year will have passed, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski acknowledged ahead of San Jose’s pre-season debut Tuesday that the pain of losing the Stanley Cup final isn’t something that will pass with ease. In fact, Pavelski said he can’t foresee a time when he’s ever really past the loss.
“I don’t know if you ever get over it,” Pavelski said. “Looking back, whether you’re done or you’re here right now, it’s still with you. But you try to learn from it. There are things you can take from it that maybe you do differently, maybe not. You always kind of have it.”
And while the emotion of dropping the Stanley Cup final will linger, Pavelski said it’s not something he’s going to let impact his play.
Pavelski, who captained Team USA at the World Cup, has started to get well-deserved recognition as one of the league’s premiere players. Since the beginning of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, only Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin have scored more goals than Pavelski’s 132 and the Sharks captain’s 258 points are the 11th-best total over that same span.
But Pavelski and the Sharks are going to need another brilliant year if they’re going to get back to the Stanley Cup final, a task that has become near impossible in the post-lockout NHL. The only teams to repeat as finalists since the 2004-05 lockout are the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins, both of whom made it to consecutive finals in 2007-08 and 2008-09. In the seven seasons since, no team has made it to the finals in consecutive seasons, and prior to the Red Wings and Penguins repeating as finalists, no team had accomplished the feat in eight seasons.
Pavelski’s hope is that the learning experience from the past post-season’s Western Conference title and final appearance is that the Sharks enter the campaign knowing what’s required of them to make it all the way back.
“I think the biggest thing from that is you understand (what it takes) as a team,” Pavelski said. “You really need your team. A lot of guys step up along the way, and that’s the biggest thing you take out of that. You’re not going to get a shot next week at it. So there is that process. Let’s not look too far ahead, get back up to speed here with camp and get everyone on the same page.”
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