SAN JOSE -- With three days of practice before the playoff series opener against the Los Angeles Kings, Sharks coach Todd McLellan has had time to explore his options.

So Tuesday it was really no surprise when he moved Joe Pavelski -- his team's leading scorer with 41 goals and 79 points -- off the top line and into the third-line center position, a spot that McLellan has said gives San Jose the scoring balance needed to improve its chances of winning.

No decision has been made, however, as to where Pavelski will open the series Thursday.

"The debate isn't a raving one in the coaches' locker room," McLellan said of the decision where Pavelski will start out against the Kings. "We feel equally comfortable going either way."

The determining factors, he added, is whether rookie Tomas Hertl is able to handle more minutes against key players on the top line with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns as well as Raffi Torres's potential return to the lineup.

"A lot of that will dictate which way we'll go," McLellan said, adding that Hertl's first two games lacked the intensity as well as the increased ice time the top line might be given in the postseason.

Pavelski has played most of his games on the top line since the Dec. 19 hit by Kings captain Dustin Brown that knocked Hertl out of the lineup for 45 games as he recovered from knee surgery. Hertl did play in the final two games of the regular season, including a few shifts on the Thornton line that allowed Pavelski to slip into the third line role.


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Pavelski said he doesn't change his preparation depending on what roll he plays.

"The other night in Phoenix, it was just on the fly. You go on the fly, you're back in the middle," he said. "I feel like a centerman most of the time even when I'm on wing. There's a few things to do, but preparation doesn't change that much."

Does Pavelski expect to see action in both spots over the course of the series?

"It depends on how it goes," he said. "You win a few games, things usually stay the same. You lose a few, there's always changes and adjustments to be made."

For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/PollakOnSharks.