Is Joe Pavelski the greatest ‘old man’ playoff performer ever?

At the time, I doubt Joe Pavelski had any idea what he had just achieved on a personal level. Perhaps it was a blur as he buried past once-powerful goalkeeper Adin Hill to win Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals in extra time for the Dallas Stars on Thursday night. Pavelski’s team shortened the 3-0 loss to 3-1. It was a start.

But once we put the team results aside: Pavelski accomplished something quite remarkable on Thursday night. More than one thing, really. Target is 73rank in his playing career, surpassing him Alex Ovechkin to lead his career among active players. At 38, Pavelski also became the oldest player ever to score a goal in a knockout game to prevent disqualification.

But perhaps most impressive of all: Pavelski scored his ninth goal in the 2023 playoffs in just 12 games.lame pants game. That pushed him past Johnny Buyck in 1973-74 and Martin St. Louis in 2013-14 the most ever in a season after season by a player aged 38 or older. With two more goals, Pavelski will surpass Brett Hull 2001-02 to become the 37-year-old or older player to score the most goals in the playoffs.

The record for playoff goals after a season by anyone 35 or older? It was also Pavelski’s. He had 13 goals during Dallas’ run to the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Finals. With four game winners this season, Pavelski is fifth in NHL playoff history with 18 – but he scored 11 of those after turning 30. Earlier this month, he became second oldest player ever to score a hat trick in a playoff, down 49 days without Bucyk’s mark. Pavelski also scored a hat-trick in the 2020 knockout round, and along with Bucyk, Wayne Gretzky and Maurice Richard became the only players to have ever scored multiple hat-tricks in the playoffs after turning 35.

Pavelski’s late-career resurgence with the Dallas Stars has begun to give him some momentum on the Hall of Fame based on his regular-season achievements. He has crossed the 1,000-point mark this season and needs another 51 goals to reach 500. But if we also take into account what he has done in the knockout stages, his case will be becomes much more interesting.

Goalkeepers Tim Thomas, Glenn Hall and Patrick Roy and defender Scott Stevens won the Conn Smythe Trophy aged 35 and over. Blueliner Nicklas Lidstrom was instrumental in the Wings’ 2007-08 Stanley Cup in their 30s. They own the ‘Old Guys’ biggest singles playoff attempt. But you could make a case that, including several stellar seasons after turning 35, Pavelski is the oldest playoff player in NHL history. At worst, he’s second, right there with Buyck’s Boston Bruins heyday. Of course, there’s one thing that Bucyk did after the age of 35 that Pavelski still hasn’t done: win the Stanley Cup.


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