Player Power Rankings, Week 5: Meier, Meier, pants on fire

Daylight savings time gave us all one extra hour this week to allocate to Timo Time.

The Sharks’ 1-1-1 record through three home games this week seems disappointing, but there were still some good things going on under the hood that can give us some hope. The Sharks have been a positive shot share team for every period after the first intermission of the New York Rangers game on Tuesday and, while their goal tending leaves a little to be desired, the Sharks’ skaters have by and large been effective.

Among goalies who have played at least 300 minutes so far this year, Martin Jones’ -7.13 adjusted goals saved above average (GSAA) at 5-on-5 is 32nd of 33 (in case you were wondering how the St. Louis Blues could be so low in the standings with such a stacked roster, Jake Allen is 33rd).

San Jose is a very good team who dominates the shot share battle almost every night, but they’ll need more between the pipes if they want that domination to start showing up in the standings. Without further ado, what you came here for:

1. Timo Meier

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week3314361159.15

Last week: 1

For the second week in a row, Timo Meier has set the NHL on fire. Not literally — that would be dangerous — but Meier’s 11 goals through 14 games not only sets a franchise record, but shares the league lead in that category. While Meier’s nine-game point streak hit a wall on Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, his 16 points shares the lead on the Sharks with two other players we’ll talk about in more detail later. Meier closed out the week with a heroic overtime goal just 13 seconds into the extra frame against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, a franchise record for fastest goal scored in overtime.

While Meier’s OT winner was a beauty, his goal earlier that night showed a lot of the same aplomb. Particularly, focus on how Meier pauses right before turning on the jets to go to the net. He sees Flyers defenseman Robert Hagg turn away, and sneaks behind him to get open. If you’re having a bad day, look at Hagg’s double take when he realizes that Timo is right behind him, and feel joy.

2. Brent Burns

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week312320857.26

Last week: 3

Brent Burns shares a lot with Timo Meier this year. He shares Meier’s team lead in points at 16, Meier’s nine game point streak that ended Thursday, and Meier’s winning smile. Burns leads the Sharks in assists with 13, but excitement there should be tempered, as eight of the big man’s assists are secondary. While Burns will undoubtedly, and appropriately, draw criticism for his defensive zone play and his one on one decision making, he more than makes up for those deficits in offensive production, and this week was no exception.

Burns’ slap shot bomb past Henrik Lundqvist on Tuesday night was a good example of some of the best and worst things about his play in the offensive zone. Burns sees Marcus Sorensen fighting for the puck in the corner and shouts at him for the pass. Sorensen makes a great tight turn under pressure and Burns bombs the puck into traffic. This kind of play from Burns can result in shin bruises at least as often as it results in goals, but when they work the way it did here, there’s not much even the King of New York can do about it.

3. Logan Couture

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week303330955

Last week: 4

Logan Couture may be the best player on this team right now, an assessment that is overshadowed by Meier’s and Burns’ hot streaks. Couture is the third player on the Sharks with a share of the team lead in points at 16, but he leads the team in primary points with, let me see, 16?! That’s right, Couture leads the team in points and all of them are primary. Not only that, our little Logan’s two penalty minutes are the least among the Sharks’ top-six point scorers. Couture is seeing the team’s hardest minutes against the best competition and he is thriving.

In yesterday’s Winning Play, an excellent series that you should have already been reading, our very own Sheng Peng broke this play down in detail yesterday morning, but I want to look in a little more detail at what Couture does to poor, innocent, baby-faced Jakub Voracek here. By the time this clip starts, Couture has already started a foot race with Voracek after stripping Claude Giroux of the puck and his dignity back in the defensive end, and Logan’s a step behind. Couture reads Voracek’s intention to reach for the puck and lifts his stick up out of the way, but here’s the good part. Couture uses Voracek’s extra step on the puck against him. Using the heel of his stick, Couture taps the puck towards the boards and slows it down. To stay with Couture and the play, Voracek has to slow up and move with the puck, but all his weight is on his front (left) foot, so he has to stand up and dig his right skate into the ice hard, turning his body toward the boards and stopping entirely. This gives Couture the space to tap the puck through the Czech’s legs and he’s free to make the pass with all the time in the world.

4. Kevin Labanc

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week312332756.52

Kevin Labanc’s goal against Columbus on Thursday ended a 10 game goalless drought during which the banker only managed two assists. Hopefully getting that particularly sad monkey off his back was the start of a new hot streak, as he set up two more goals during the following game against the Flyers. We’ve used this space before to gush about the developmental steps Labanc seems to have taken this year, and he ranks fifth on the Sharks in on ice shot attempt share which, while admittedly a small sample only one month into the season, bodes well for his ability to play on both sides of the puck going forward.

Labanc sells the heck out of this shot. For another perspective on this play, I refer you again to yesterday’s winning play, and in that piece Labanc admits he himself was committed to the shot. Some goaltenders say that one of the things to watch as a puck carrier bears down on them is their strong side shoulder. Often, right before a hard snap shot, the shooter’s strong side shoulder drops as the dominant hand slides toward the blade to allow for more accuracy. Some shooters have gotten away from that style of hand movement to create more deceptive shots (Brock Boeser, Auston Matthews), but Labanc uses that tendency to his advantage here. Labanc drops his right shoulder well before he starts the shot motion, and goaltender Calvin Pickard comes all the way out of his crease to take away angles. By the time he realizes a pass is coming, the puck has already moved to Joe Pavelski’s waiting blade.

5. Erik Karlsson

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week3000021061.83

This charade has gone on long enough. Erik Karlsson has been with the Sharks for 14 games, has yet to record a goal, and is one of the coaching staff’s most trusted players. Karlsson is on the ice in all situations, excels on the penalty kill, leads the Sharks in 5-on-5 time and is sixth on the team in shot attempt share despite a rotating cast of partners. Karlsson led the team in 5-on-5 ice time this week by a full 10 minutes, and is consistently dangerous in the offensive zone, as the dangerous chances and opportunities seem to flow through him smoothly. Karlsson earned his 400th career assist this week on that Burns goal we discussed earlier, and he’ll keep racking them up if he keeps playing like he has.

Hono(u)rable Mentions

Tomas Hertl: Lost in the joy and glory of Labanc’s pass to Pavelski on Saturday night was Hertl, who impeded Ivan Provorov’s movement into the shooting lane and pulled him into the slot away from Labanc. Without that little interference, Labanc may not have had the time he did to threaten Pickard’s very humanity.

Antti Suomela: Peter, my friend, how could you? Suomela’s play on the Sharks has been a revelation so far this season. Hopefully his healthy scratch on Saturday was instructive and not punitive.

Brenden Dillon: Dillon has a new lease on life and its name is Erik Karlsson. While the two spending so much time together on the ice may not be the best idea in terms of generating standings points, it has done wonders for the big man’s game. Dillon’s week saw him generate the second greatest shot share on the team, with the lowest offensive zone start percentage.

Gritty: I just think he’s great and am sad we won’t get to see him again this season. Fare thee well, sweet beast.