Thornton still an ordinary Joe in playoffs

So here we are, Joe, right back where we always seem to be at this time of year. It is the first round of the NHL playoffs. Your San Jose Sharks are in them. And that means you are in them too, even though it does not always look that way.

Sure, you appear to be working hard and back-checking well enough, and you are still making those soft, perfect little passes, just like you do during the regular season.

But that is the problem, Joe. It is not the regular season anymore.

The playoffs are a different kind of hockey beast, an annual rite of spring that is far more life and death than the 82-game preamble. April, May and June are set aside for greatness. The stakes are high, expectations are elevated, and the best players are supposed to find that extra gear.

But you never seem to change gears, Joe. While everybody else is stepping up you always seem to take a step sideways. Or worse, back.

That is what happened last year when your Sharks captured the President’s Trophy as the best team during the regular season and then face-planted in the opening round of the playoffs. You had one goal and four assists in six game. You were a playoff bust. You always have been.

A team with Joe Thornton on it has never advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs. A player that is averaging 1.26 points per regular-season game since the lockout is averaging 0.82 points per playoff game over the same stretch.

This year, Joe, you have two lonely assists after four games with Colorado. The series is tied 2-2. But your line has no goals. No goals, Joe. And you play with Dany Heatley — a hobbled Heatley, but a Heatley nonetheless — and Patrick Marleau.