"Trade Patrick Marleau."
Saddened by three straight second-round playoff exits, San Jose Sharks fans spent the early days of the 2008 wedding season yearning for a divorce. On front pages and fan forums the phrase appeared countless times, largely because the Sharks' playoff goal totals could be added up by Sesame Street's target audience. Searching for a scapegoat (skategoat?), Marleau's lackluster performances in '08 and '07 (14 points and a minus-7 in 24 playoff games) stood out to the torch-and-pitchfork posse that marked him as a postseason pushover.
Despite the recent disappointments, that reputation is undeserved. Over the course of his career, Marleau's points-per-game production has dipped just 0.01 points between the regular season and playoffs. That consistency hasn't been shared by all the Sharks' stars, however.
During the regular season, Joe Thornton is a point-scoring machine. But something short-circuits in the playoffs. While he's been better in San Jose (30 points in 35 playoff games), over the course of his career Thornton's scoring has sagged in the spring. The center's production falls from a stellar 1.01 ppg regular-season average to just 0.69 ppg when it's time to chase the Cup. Of all active NHLers with at least three playoff appearances, only nine have larger scoring swoons in the playoffs.
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