SAN JOSE -- Todd McLellan is talking about Patrick Marleau, the veteran left wing who has become the flash point for the franchise's playoff highs and lows in his 15 years as a Shark.
"He is one of those guys that everybody wants to be perfect," the Sharks coach said, "and it's virtually impossible to be a perfect player."
Still, Marleau seems to be within shouting distance of that so far in San Jose's playoff series with the Vancouver Canucks as the Sharks hold a commanding two-game lead as the series moved to HP Pavilion for Sunday night's Game 3.
McLellan was speaking not long after Marleau tapped in the tying goal with 55.1 seconds left in regulation in Game 2 that put the Sharks in position for their overtime win.
And 48 hours earlier, it was Marleau who scored the insurance tally that gave his team some breathing room with about six minutes left in its Game 1 win.
All of which adds to the upside of a playoff history that has had some rough patches, as well. Consider:
His 54 goals in the postseason are second among active NHL players as only Jaromir Jagr of the Boston Bruins has more with 67. Similarly among active players, only Jagr has more playoff game-winners than Marleau's 13 -- the most recent of which came in the seventh game of the 2011 series against the Detroit Red Wings.
But there are other playoff moments that stick in the mind of his critics.
How he was out of position when Detroit came back with a late goal that may have cost San Jose a 2007 series. Or his "bunny hop" over a Mike Modano slap shot that ended up in the San Jose net the following year when the Sharks faced the Dallas Stars. Or the fact he didn't pick up a point when San Jose was eliminated by the St. Louis Blues a year ago.
Marleau's assessment of his playoff career?
"All those little things that happened in the past, you learn from and you move on," he said. "Maybe there's something different you could have done, but there's a lot of times where you did the right thing."
Then he continued.
"I think I've done well in the playoffs. There might be some times where you go through stretches, but that's just the way hockey is sometimes. You don't want to have those, but sometimes it happens."
Defenseman Brad Stuart knows Marleau as a playoff teammate and playoff foe, having played against him in 2010 and 2011 while on the Red Wings.
"I know Patty scored some big goals against us in Detroit," Stuart said. "He's a guy you want on your side."
But Stuart, also 33, has been around long enough to know that a team's top players are the ones most criticized when a team fails to meet expectations. And Marleau is held accountable for that reason.
"When a team doesn't do what people think they should do, you look to the top players and say maybe they could have done more," Stuart said. "Fairly or not, that's what happens. And that's not always the case."
Marleau's most vocal critic has been former teammate and current TV analyst Jeremy Roenick, who questioned the Shark's effort when he went six games without scoring in that 2011 series against Detroit before potting the winner in Game 7.
But Marleau's effort certainly has not been an issue against Vancouver -- this year or in 2011 when he notched four goals and three assists in the Western Conference finals. Nor was it an issue in Game 3 of San Jose's 2008 series against the Calgary Flames when he was crushed by defenseman Cory Sarich, and his strong response the rest of the game showed he would not be intimidated.
McLellan shares Stuart's view that Marleau always will be under the microscope because of who he is -- the second overall pick in the 1997 draft, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound forward with speed and skill. Someone who has amassed 861 points in 1,165 regular-season contests and 90 more in 131 playoff games.
"He'll always be a scrutinized player because of how talented he is and how good he is," McLellan said, including Joe Thornton and, now, Logan Couture on that list. "It comes with the territory."