Player Power Rankings Week 22: Marcus Scorin’, Son

All Hail Our Swedish Overlords.

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.

The Sharks had yet another good week, their 2-1-0 record marred only by a lackluster performance in a road-trip-ending loss to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. Still, tallying four of every six possible points still may not be enough to catch the Pacific Division leading Calgary Flames.

While the Flames’ clean regulation loss to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday has allowed the Sharks to pull within three, Calgary has rebounded well after a four-game skid started by their 5-3 loss to the Sharks on Feb. 7: starting on Feb. 18, the Flames churned out seven wins in a row, rendering the Sharks’ 4-2-1 record since that date woefully inadequate. Still, barring a wild streak from the Erik Karlsson-less Sharks or a full collapse from the Flames, every day brings us closer to a Vegas Golden Knights match up in the first round.

Once the postseason starts, it is entirely possible that Martin Jones will transform in the light of a full moon into Playoff Goaltender Jones and start putting up .950s every night, but we should prepare for the very real possibility that he does not, and that a San Jose-Vegas shootout is on the horizon. While that figures to be fun for everyone who is not a fan of the Sharks or Knights, a fire wagon affair against that top-six (complete with new addition Mark Stone) should give anyone some high blood pressure concerns.

What, then, do the Sharks do with Karlsson? It seems more and more important that the Sharks gain as much ground as possible as the regular season winds down to try to catch the Flames, but if Karlsson plays before he’s ready (again), he risks aggravating a nagging soft tissue injury (again) and crippling his ability to play effectively in the postseason (again). There is a delicate balance here, and one hopes and expects that San Jose’s coaching staff is straddling it as well as possible.

Then again, maybe the Arizona Coyotes just go nuts for five weeks and dump the Knights into a wild card. Parity!

1. Marcus Sorensen

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week230330551.98

Perhaps buoyed by general manager Doug Wilson’s acquisition of yet another one of his countrymen, Marcus Sorensen had himself a week. After missing two games thanks to an errant shot in Columbus last week, Sorensen returned to the Sharks’ lineup on Friday against the Colorado Avalanche in the rarest of forms. His two-goal night at home on Friday was the first of his career, and he followed it up with a game-winning goal last night against the Chicago Blackhawks. If Sorensen can keep this up for another few weeks, the Sharks’ scoring depth may be the difference maker in the postseason.

Sorensen’s tip game this week was Pavelski-esque, but last night’s game winner was a little more fun. Setting aside, for now, the otherwordly passing from Joe Thornton to which we’ve all become so accustomed, Sorensen’s ability to sneak into a dangerous position to receive the big man’s pass was on full display here. Poor Dominik Kahun thought all was well and he was in fine position covering the shooting lane of Brenden Dillon when Sorensen flew past him off of the bench. The young Swede caught six Hawks puck watching, and by the time Brent Seabrook and Cam Ward saw him, it was too late.

2. Timo Meier

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week320224956.45

Timo Meier is a mercurial figure on the 2018-19 San Jose Sharks. While his scoring has waxed and waned over the season, the Swiss phenom’s shot rates and impact on the team’s play has been consistently excellent. With two goals this week against the Avalanche and Blackhawks, Meier has checked both boxes. Any time Meier is on the ice, he is driving the Sharks’ play forward and, when he can avoid repeatedly bruising opposing goalies’ sternums, he can fill the net on occasion as well.

This is the kind of shot of which we would love to see more from Meier. With what has become a common move in today’s NHL, Meier pulled the puck in towards his body right before releasing the shot, changing the angle and using defender and 2006 first-overall draft pick Erik Johnson as a bit of a screen. When a shot gets placed so perfectly right under the blocker arm, though, I’m not sure how much a screen matters. To put the puck in that position on the net from that distance is remarkable and the Sharks will be looking for more of that precision from Meier in the future.

3. Tomas Hertl

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week311222950.05

Last week: 4

Tomas Hertl is continuing his third breakout campaign of his still very young season with a blistering 78-point pace through 61 games played. Hertl’s emergence has, for the most part, come in part thanks to his chemistry with Evander Kane and, to a lesser extent, Joonas Donskoi. Hopefully, Kane’s absence from the Sharks’ lineup is temporary but, for this week at least, it did not seem to slow the Hertl down one hair.

One of the key aspects to Hertl’s game is his ability to use his massive frame to protect the puck from opposing defenders. Similarly, the key to this play was Hertl’s ability to keep his center of gravity back on his heels and use his right leg to prevent Duncan Keith from reaching the puck across Hertl’s body as he barreled in on Cam Ward. Hertl’s lower body strength is on full display here, as his left leg is doing most of the work to turn him left as he darts the puck past a sprawling Ward to open the scoring.

4. Brent Burns

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week302220954.14

Last week: 3

No Karlsson, no Kane, no problem. It seems like no matter what other trials and tribulations the Sharks’ roster is undergoing, Brent Burns just keeps scoring. Burns’ 72 points leads the Sharks through 66 games, and is tops in the league among defensemen, leading second place Morgan Rielly by ten points. Burns also leads all NHL defensemen in shots on goal and is fifth among all active skaters in that category. It should come as no surprise then, that both of Burns’ assists this week came as a result of deflections in front of the net, but San Jose’s forwards can only keep knocking them down as long as Burns keeps setting them up.

It seems, at this point, like Burns is just looking for friendly sticks on the ice near the goal, and shooting at them. On this play in particular, Burns barely even looked at the Avalanche’s net, but his reputation is such that goaltender Semyon Varlamov and defender Sam Girard have to respect his shot. Burns used that assumption to his advantage on Friday and his deft pass to Sorensen proved too much for poor Erik Johnson to handle alone.

5. Gustav Nyquist

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
Season (DET, SJS)6516334934817251.89
This Week300000958.42

The Sharks’ newest member may have yet to hit the score sheet, but Gustav Nyquist has shown no lack of confidence in a new uniform for the first time since he hit the NHL full-time in 2014. The addition of Nyquist to the Sharks’ third forward line with Thornton and Sorensen may have something to do with the latter’s surge up the Sharks’ box scores this week, and his team-leading 58 percent shot attempt share almost definitely had something to do with it.

In the words of the captain himself, after a tough loss to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday: “I want to go as far as he was our best player out there. He looked confident with the puck.” Joe Pavelski seemed just as impressed with Wilson’s new toy as we were and it’s only a matter of time before he starts victimizing Western Conference goalies here.

Hono(u)rable Mentions

Tim Heed: With two assists last night, Heed couldn’t help but help himself to the Swedish scoring parade this week. All he needs is a little ice time and Heed is a perfectly adequate NHL defensemen. The fact that he struggles as much as he does to see ice in San Jose speaks to the defensive depth this team boasts.

Joe Pavelski: With two points against the Avalanche this week, Pavelski continues to cement his financial future as an NHL player, but I, for one, am not near ready to tear off that band-aid yet.

Micheal Haley: While Haley may not be the most skilled NHL player, he potted two assists this week, and, while they were secondary, they were far from empty. On Thursday and last night, Haley was excellent, winning board battles, maintaining offensive pressure and drawing a key penalty that led directly to Melker Karlsson’s first of the night. If he can play like that, and refrain from chasing unnecessary hits and confrontations, Haley can be an effective member of this team.

Joe Thornton: Another day, another climb up the ladder of history. Last night’s contest was Thornton’s 1550th, tying Alex Delvecchio for 14th all time. Next up in that regard is in just four games, when Thornton will draw even with Jarome Iginla.