April 28, 2016 By Paul Gackle

Rink Notes: Sharks’ Pavelski Focused on Playoffs, Not Video Games

SAN JOSE — As the Sharks try to navigate their way through the Stanley Cup playoffs, captain Joe Pavelski is locked in a heated battle for another coveted prize: the cover of EA Sports NHL 17.

Pavelski is among eight finalists vying to have his image on the cover of the most popular hockey video game in the world, an honor he called “fun”.

The Sharks captain is competing against Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, Florida Panthers forward Alexsander Barkov, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek, St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and Dallas Stars center Jamie Benn in the first round of fan voting, which wraps up at noon on May 2.

“It’s fun, but right now, that’s what it is, a fun little side favor that I’m not too worried about,” Pavelski said.

“You try to take care of everything else.”

Pavelski said he was a fan of the game growing up, but he hasn’t played much in recent years. He acknowledged that he’s played the game a, “time or two,” to test out his likeness.

Which team would he use growing up?

“I bounced around a little bit. Colorado and Detroit were really good, you always wanted the best team,” he said. “I loved Brett Hull, he was one of my favorite players growing up, so you’d always have the Blues or try to trade for him.”

Although Pavelski’s yet to vote for himself, teammate Logan Couture offered his endorsement. Well, kind of.

“He didn’t say anything, I saw it on Twitter,” Couture said, when asked if he’d vote for Pavelski. “Yeah, sure.”

Rest Vs. Rust: As a hockey writer, it’s hard to escape the rest vs. rust storylines at this time of year, especially when one team’s coming off a grueling seven-game series and the other’s been waiting around for nearly a week.

Although the Sharks have a knack for cranking out their best game when the situation calls for it, personal experience tells head coach Peter DeBoer that the Nashville Predators will come out flying in Game 1 of their second round Stanley Cup playoffs series at the SAP Center on Friday.

“I’ve been on the other end of that,” DeBoer said. “When I was in New Jersey, first round we played Game 7 double overtime to eliminate the Panthers before moving on to play Philly. We faced elimination in Game 6, won in overtime, double overtime in Game 7, and kind of rolled that into the second round and showed up with a lot of confidence.”

“I’m very aware that this is a dangerous team coming in here.”

DeBoer isn’t worried about the Sharks coming out flat in Game 1 after a six-day break from game action. Instead, he’s concerned that they’ll be too ramped up.

“They’ve got some pent up energy here after four or five days sitting around watching. They want to play,” he said. “I don’t think our energy is going to be an issue, I think it’s just going to be getting that composure and working smart.”

No Recall, No Relevance: After suiting up for 1,367 regular season games, Joe Thornton should be excused for forgetting the details of three games over the course of an 82-game schedule.

Thornton appeared to have amnesia when asked about the Sharks three-game regular season series with the Predators.

“I don’t remember, to be honest with you. I really don’t,” he said.

The Sharks alternate captain should be excused for forgetting the details of his team’s previous encounters with the Predators since they hold little relevance to their upcoming best-of-seven game series.

The first meeting on Oct. 28, which the Predators won 2-1, is truly a throwaway. The Sharks were playing without Logan Couture, who was sidelined with a fractured right fibula, and the Predators had yet to acquire Ryan Johansen in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, so neither squad had the depth down the middle that helped them advance into the second round of the playoffs.

The Sharks 3-2 shootout win over the Predators on April 2 should also be disregarded. The Sharks and Predators had both wrapped up playoff spots and were more concerned about staying sharp than earning two points in the standings. Although the Sharks battled back to win, the game was essentially a glorified exhibition.

The teams played one meaningful game with their current rosters on Feb. 6 and the Predators ran the Sharks out of their building by a 6-2 score.

The Sharks were playing the third game of a four-game road trip and the loss was sandwiched between wins over the Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Does one midseason game really tell us anything about what’s going happen in a playoff series?

You decide.

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