Player Power Rankings, Week 11: We didn’t start the Meier

He just keeps on scoring, so the ranking’s boring.

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’s amazing what a little rest and home cooking can do.

After returning home from a brutal road trip involving three different sets of back-to-backs with travel in six games, including a stretch of five in a row in different time zones, the San Jose Sharks are back in the saddle, having swept their small home stand and winning seven of their last eight.

Perhaps it was the truly humiliating 6-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators, or the series of closed door meetings the next morning with head coach Pete DeBoer and general manager Doug Wilson, or the reassignment of their assistant coaches to each other’s duties, or the simple allure of home sweet San Jose at the holidays, regardless, the Sharks are rolling through a gentle and soft stretch of schedule and making good on the opportunity to stack points.

The Sharks have climbed back up to second in the Pacific division behind the suddenly dominant Calgary Flames and, while their measly +9 goal differential may give some pause, their play of late has been more consistent and more effective.

However, this next week holds some real tests for our boys in blue as, despite falling from the lofty heights they occupied earlier in the season, the Minnesota Wild are still dangerous, and the Winnipeg Jets are among the league’s best. If the Sharks can put up a strong showing this week, and still take candy from babies like the Los Angeles Kings and Arizona Coyotes, we may have some real contender talk on our hands heading into the Christmas break.

On with the show!

1. Timo Meier

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week3404421452.57

Last week: 1

This is getting pretty silly. Timo Meier just continues to take the NHL, and our hearts, by storm, as his four (4) goals this week in three wins led the team. Meier is quickly and not particularly quietly becoming a premier power forward in the world’s best* hockey league, and the rest of the NHL is taking notice. Meier leads the team in points per 60 minutes played, goals per 60, shots per 60, we could go on forever like this. In second place on the team in goals, third in points, and fourth in shots, Meier is the engine that has driven the Sharks through this recent run of success.

There is no shortage of highlight footage for our sweet Swiss savior this week, but this goal really shows off his skating as one of his stronger tools. This was the second time against Dallas that Meier used his body language to signal to goaltender Anton Khudobin that he was looking to pass, so he had to go the extra mile and get really method with it. This time, Timo turned his entire body back to the trailing Logan Couture for a quick pass. What’s impressive was how quickly Meier shifted his weight back onto his right foot and turned his hips into a shooting position at that speed. Watching Khudobin’s positioning during this clip, it’s tough to see what he should have done differently.

2. Brent Burns

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week3055301363.85

Brent Burns must know he’s in the all-star voting, because he’s heating up. With five points in three games this week, leading the Sharks, Burns has hit a point per game pace through 34 contests this season, and sits in a tie with Couture for first in points among his fellow teal friends. Burns leads the team in assists, and sits in third place in shots on goal. After recording his 600th career point on Sunday, Burns is just one point back of the league lead in points among blue liners, and is living up to his potential as an offense first, last and middle defenseman.

While this isn’t the Burns-est of Burns plays, this is the kind of heads up play we expect from most other offense focused defensemen. When he isn’t launching howitzer blasts from the right point, Brent Burns can still make a pretty good first pass. This one traveled the width of the ice, and almost to the offensive blue line, causing the Chicago Blackhawks defense, such as it is, to scramble to react. Poor Brent Seabrook raced over to Lukas Radil and misread him badly, allowing the latter to flip the puck to Melker Karlsson in the slot.

3. Tomas Hertl

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week322430354.52

Among Sharks skaters with at least 30 games played, only two have fewer penalty minutes recorded this season than Tomas Hertl. Aside from being the only player not named Meier with more than one goal this week, Hertl is also adorable:

Yes, I know, it’s not the kind of highlight you may be used to in this space, and maybe it isn’t what you wanted, but you cannot deny that it is what you needed. Nobody tell Erik Karlsson that he said this, please.

4. Logan Couture

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week313430954.66

Last week: 2

Logan Couture may be making a bid for captain. Again. With 34 points in as many games, Couture shares the team’s point lead with his bearded compatriot, and his six penalty minutes sit tied with Hertl down near the squad’s bottom. Couture and his linemates, Hertl and Meier, consistently lead the team in defensive zone starts and in points, demonstrating that the players who are consistently the most effective at shutting down opposition scoring are also the most effective at everything else.

This sequence is a bit of controlled chaos from the Sharks and, at this point in a game like this, it’s arguable that Chicago was not playing their best and most mindful defensive schemes, but Couture’s attention to the details of this particular stretch of anarchy is notable. Couture got a couple of whacks at the bouncing puck in the corner as Duncan Keith remembered that he’s still in a hockey game, and once he got wood (or carbon fiber or unicorn ivory or whatever these kids’ sticks are made out of these days) on it, he made a sweet pass into the slot where Hertl converted.

5. Erik Karlsson

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week3033001560.26

Last week: 3

What else is there to say about Erik Karlsson? Still leading the team in ice time, still second in 5-on-5 shot attempt share to his partner, Brenden Dillon, still second on the Sharks in shots on goal, and still first in all of our hearts, Karlsson is making his mark on this team, and no where is it more noticeable than on the Sharks’ new look power play.

The addition of Karlsson has allowed Brent Burns to spend some of his power play time in Alex Ovechkin’s office. In the first part of this clip, though, there is no Karlsson to be found, but the Sharks were running a similar system, with one player up high at the blue line, and a presence on both half walls/face off circles. This seems to have maximized both Karlsson’s and Burns’s abilities to convert on the man advantage, as the Sharks’ power play unit ranks fifth in point percentage, and first in shot attempt share in the month of December.

Hono(u)rable mentions

Kevin Labanc: Labanc’s presence on the Sharks’ power play should not be overlooked. His ability to make decisions down low and thread passes East-West provides the team’s man advantage squad a dynamism they’d been lacking.

Melker Karlsson: The other Karlsson had a strong week, along with the rest of the Sharks’ fourth line, Barclay Goodrow and Lukas Radil. Armed with some plush zone starts and easy match ups, the bottom three made good, dominating the shot share battle, and finding the score board with a frequency that should make head coach Peter DeBoer roll them out with confidence.

Brenden Dillon: With two assists and six shots on goal this week, Dillon’s offensive production is starting to turn some heads to his already exceptional versatility. Scoring, hitting, defending, Dillon can do it all.