Player Power Rankings, Week 12: Clearing Hertls

Czech that one off your Christmas list.

Welcome to Fear the Fin’s weekly(ish) player power rankings. Who had the biggest impact, the best goals or the prettiest smile in the week that was and who you should totally grab off of waivers in your fantasy league to stick it to Derek in accounts receivable. All rankings subject to the whims of fate and whatever we’re feeling in the moment.

It was all going so well.

It seems emblematic of the Sharks’ season to date that, in a week in which the Sharks posted a disappointing 1-1-2 record, the sole regulation loss would be the game in which they played their best. San Jose dominated the possession game against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night, controlling the 5-on-5 score- and venue-adjusted shot attempt share to the tune of 64.1 percent, but fell victim to one of the stranger hat tricks you are likely to see, and the irresistible vision quests and flights of fancy that plagued goaltender Martin Jones.

Still, the Sharks’ season to date has been defined by streaks, and just as soon as their season high five-game win streak came to an end, they embarked on a new streak — albeit one less enviable — in losing their next three. The ability to draw four out of eight possible points this week seems a cold comfort when it involved two losses to division rivals, one of whom has been particularly (and joyously) inept this season.

‘Tis, however, a season for joy and a season for gratitude. The Sharks head into the holiday break 19-12-7, an even .500 for those of us who’ve yet to accede to the NHL’s peculiar version of feel-good win percentage. As high as hopes were heading into the season, the big picture is that the Sharks are starting to figure it out. This weekend’s disappointments notwithstanding, the team seems to have finally settled on a line up that the coaching staff can stick with, the new additions are playing to their strengths, and the goaltending... well, maybe let’s not talk about the goaltending today.

1. Tomas Hertl

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week422440869.27

Last week: 3

The Sharks’ resident adorable small 220 pound child, Tomas Hertl had a great week, and we’re not just referring to his fashion choices. Last week, Hertl forced himself into this lineup partially on the back of his excellent “too many Sweden” quip. This week, with a two-goal performance yesterday against Arizona and a two-assist game Tuesday night against the Wild, he gave us no choice. In addition to leading the Sharks in points this week, Hertl led the squad in shot attempt share at 5-on-5, placed second this week in goals and in assists, and sits in fifth on the team in points on the season, despite playing five fewer games than many of his compatriots.

Furhter, Hertl is a gentle giant, and his six penalty minutes are the fewest among all eight Sharks players who’ve tallied at least 20 points on the season (he sits tied with Logan Couture for that distinctive honor).

As you may have gathered, we love these power forward plays. Hertl was the beneficiary of an excellent break out pass from Justin Braun here, and took advantage of a lackluster back check by Brad Richardson. Richardson stopped moving his feet a little too early and Hertl took advantage, making a hard left toward the goal, surprising both defender Ilya Lyubuskhin and netminder Darcy Kuemper with a shot that went just high enough to clear the latter’s left pad. Richardson and Lyubushkin were two of the Coyotes’ best players last night, but nobody told that to Tomas Hertl.

2. Joe Pavelski

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week4303321158.63

Joe Pavelski is scoring like someone in search of a new contract and, with each passing goal, the voices in the back of all of our heads are becoming more insistent and concerning. Today, though, we can just enjoy Papa Pavelski’s wild ride. The Sharks’ captain led the team in goals this week, while laboring under the team’s third lowest offensive zone start percentage. His 23 goals through 38 games leads the team, and is now one more than he scored through 82 games last season, and his two secondary assists mean that he sits second in the team in primary points.

Y’all knew it had to be this one, right? We’ve seen Joe Pavelski tip many a shot during his illustrious NHL career, but few come from as far out and as cleanly as this one. The dramatics of the moment, tying a game against a bitter rival with seconds left in regulation, are overshadowed by the game’s eventual outcome, but the play itself is still something to see. As Pavelski skated by the crease, you could almost see the thought bubble above the head of Los Angeles’ Derek Forbort: “Uh oh, here comes Pavelski, he will want to park in the crease for tips. I will cover him. I am a very good defense boy. Where is he going? He will never tip from there. What is he doing over there? I must have scared him away, I am a very good defense boy. Oh.”

3. Lukas Radil

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week421330350.19

Both of these new, sweet Czech boys were bound to make our hallowed halls sooner or later, and this week that honor goes to Lukas Radil. Radil has caught fire over the past couple of weeks, spending just over 60 percent of his even strength ice time with Melker Karlsson and Barclay Goodrow, and lending some much needed consistency to the bottom of the Sharks’ lineup. That success has started to appear on the box scores as, including a goal and an assist against the Wild on Tuesday, Radil has three goals and six points in his last eight games. While his line mates have been in flux lately, owing to the blending of the squad in the back-to-back heading into the break, his production has not slowed, and the Sharks may have yet another scoring threat in a European free agent.

While Radil’s goal against the Wild was a beauty: a moving tip in of a cross crease pass from Timo Meier, his assist that night was something else entirely. A no look backhand, through the legs of Jared Spurgeon right onto the tape of a charging Couture, there was very little goaltender Devan Dubnyk could have done. While due credit should go to Couture for making the receipt of such a pass look so easy, Radil was throwing more than a hail mary here. Before he turned to the boards to receive the bank pass from fellow countryman Radim Simek, Radil saw that both Couture and Karlsson were heading to the front of the net. As soon as he was able, he then centered the puck in front of the crease, and, as the pundits say, go to the net and good things happen.

4. Evander Kane

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week4123301264.07

A possible paragon of the Sharks’ inconsistencies this season, Evander Kane brought what many of us have been expecting of him this week, most notably in San Jose’s heartbreaking 5-3 loss to the visiting Winnipeg Jets. Of Kane’s 12 shots on goal this week, 10 were in one night against Connor Hellebuyck. As disappointed as some Sharks fans are about his general lack of production this season, it isn’t for want of trying, as Kane leads the Sharks in shots on goal, and sits third (behind Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson) in individual shot attempts. Kane is doing what the Sharks ask of him: shooting the puck. Hopefully they’ll start going in with more frequency sooner than later.

One would think that the Jets and Hellebuyck would have been more prepared for a goal by Kane after streaking in the left side and unleashing a wrister from the hask marks; it’s pretty much all he does. To Kane’s credit, he normally goes far side with the shot, and it could be that little mix up that beat Hellebuyck inside. Credit also goes to Erik Karlsson on the play, whose openness forced Jets defender Josh Morrissey to cover the pass, leaving the poor goaltending Las Vegas magician to fend off Kane alone.

5. Erik Karlsson

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week3044001166.71

Last week: 5

Okay, I hear what you’re saying: “But Erik, Karlsson is suspended for two games for an illegal check to the head of Austin Wagner, what is he doing on this list?” Hear me out: Karlsson took a tie for the team lead in points this week, led the team in assists, ranked second in points and individual shot attempts, and carried an eight game, ten assist streak into Saturday’s action, all while playing one fewer game than the rest of the team. While his suspension is a mark against him, to be sure, his play this week was so dominant that an admittedly irresponsibly high hit was not enough to bump him off the list entirely. Karlsson leads the Sharks in shot attempt share and ice time in all situations, and his absence was felt on Sunday, the solid play of Tim Heed notwithstanding.

One wonders how Karlsson even sees the opportunities for these kinds of passes, let alone executes them. What’s more, he makes three or four of these kinds of plays every game! What a wizard. Karlsson’s pass to Kane here went through the proverbial spheres of influence of three (3) Jets defenders, and set Kane up for one of his better of many scoring chances on the night. Kane and Karlsson were clicking all night and, if they can sustain that chemistry, we may have a really dynamic scoring threat on our hands. Well, you know, another one.

Hono(u)rable Mentions

Joe Thornton: With an assists on Tim Heed’s bomb against Arizona last night, Thornton is now in sole possession of 10th on the all time NHL assists list with 1041. Next up, some guy named Gordie at 1049. Go get ‘im, Joe.

Kevin Labanc: It seems like any time Labanc gets the puck on the man advantage, you know something is going to happen. His creativity and passing is off the charts, and we can only imagine how he’ll continue to develop.

Logan Couture: The offensive engine that drives the Sharks, Couture still leads the team in points, and recently ended a stretch of 19 points in 11 games. As soon as he gets back on the trolley, look out, NHL.

Brenden Dillon: It’s no secret that Dillon is a mainstay of this section, but this week it’s special, if only because of what he did to Niklas Hjalmarsson last night:

You tell ‘im, Brenden!

Allow your families to be blessed by your company for a brief and fleeting moment as we take a breather from this big, stupid sport we love so much. Merry Christmas and happy holidays!