Player Power Rankings, Week 4: Ready, Aim, Meier!

Blink and you’ll Swiss it.

A common cautionary tactic as the season starts is to avoiding making any judgments of teams before they’ve played ten games. Well, friendos, here we are. Now that the Sharks, and most of the rest of the league, have played their ten, what do we know about the young season?

Despite losing the Corsi Cup in heartbreaking fashion to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night (that’s bad), the Sharks picked up five points out of a three game road trip (that’s good!) in spite of some wacky line up decisions and defense combos over the course of the week (that’s bad). The Sharks sit atop the Pacific Division and, due to a very competitive Central Division, sixth in the Western Conference. On the other end of the West, the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings, after big off-season acquisitions and high hopes, may already be finished. As the saying goes, you can’t make the post season in October, but you can miss it (hello, 2015-16 Columbus Blue Jackets).

We can still make these statements with the caveat that the season is young yet, but we’re starting to get a sense of who some of these teams are, and who the pretenders might still be. The season is not as young as it as yesterday, as no one says.

No pretenders here, though, we bring you only the best! Let’s get on with it.

1. Timo Meier

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week3426401354.65

Standing, as we are, on the precipice of a break out season for our good young Swiss boy Timo Meier, the smart and correct thing to do would be to advise caution. To say that it’s only been ten games, and while 12 points in that time is great, and his current eight-game, ten point streak is also great, and his hat trick two-goal night against the Ducks on Sunday was similarly great, and leading the team in points and goals and shots and shot attempts this week is yet again, great, the season is young and we should hesitate to ascribe grand epithets to the boy.

We are, however, rarely smart or correct, so we’ll just say it. 100 points. Eh, let’s make it 200.

It’s not surprising that this game ended with this type of goal from Meier, since three of his four goals this week came right in the crease. Meier goes to the net, just like he did in Nashville and in Carolina, and hammers at loose pucks that bounce his way. Meier’s shot is nothing special, but when a player shoots as many as he does, these kinds of goals will happen. His goal earlier in this game was a shot directly at goaltender John Gibson that just trickled through under his left arm. What Meier lacks in sniping ability, however, he makes up for in persistence, and that’s what dreams and eight-game point streaks are made of.

2. Tomas Hertl

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week323540956.79

Last week: 2

Tomas Hertl continued his dominant possession driving play this week. In addition to tying for third place on the team in points and second in goals, Hertl’s on ice shot attempt share was third best on the team, while his o-zone face off percentage was fifth from the bottom. The Sharks’ coaching staff is trusting Hertl’s line to safely get pucks out of the defensive zone at stoppages, and the Czech is driving their success in that regard. No Sharks skater had a lower o-zone face off percentage and a higher shot attempt share.

This line is just unreasonable. What Hertl does to make this goal work is a combination of two things: he holds the puck on his backhand for so long that Nashville goaltender Juuse Saros has to move to his left, and digs his right skate in while pulling the puck back the other way to go around Saros to his right. In the third view of this replay, you can see how far back and down Hertl pushes his center of gravity and, if he hadn’t run right into Saros’ leg, Hertl would have landed right on his ass. This is a high skill, high strength goal, and Hertl has both in spades.

3. Brent Burns

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week315630944.17

Brent Burns shares Meier’s lead in points this week with six, and his eight-game point streak. While Burns’ possession numbers took a hit this week, suggesting that his defensive play is not where it could be (shocking), he put pucks on nets and put points on boards and, if we’re being honest, that’s what he’s paid to do. Burns’ five assists led the team this week, and his nine shots on goal were second. What’s more, those of us who have been clamoring to see Burns in the trigger spot on the power play were finally sated:

Just like you drew it up, right? Erik Karlsson on the blue line feeding pucks for Brent Burns cannonballs from the face off dot probably violate our terms of service with our parent company for indecency, but one probably just gets us a warning. Burns is so excited that he gets to be Alex Ovechkin for one play that his slap shot takes him all the way off balance and onto his knees. This should be the goal of every Sharks power play for the rest of all of our lives.

4.Logan Couture

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week314550647.73

Last week: 1

With zero hat tricks this week, Logan Couture has hit the back nine of his career. The peak has come and gone and we’re all just riding out the decline.

Couture leads the Sharks on the season with 13 points and no secondary assists, and a respectable 81.82 IPP (individual points percentage, or the percentage of goals that happen with Couture on the ice for which he is credited a point). This means that the offense is flowing through Couture on his line, and with that line’s dominance this year, Couture is due a lot of that credit. When pucks start bouncing off of other players on the ice two touches after his, Couture’s numbers are going to get even better, so as good as his production is now, it may be under representing his contributions. Sheesh.

This is the second very good pass from Couture to Hertl into the back of a net on this page. Couture receives this pass from Kevin Labanc in an awkward place, but still manages to guide it out to a passing position, move in toward the net getting goaltender Petr Mrazek’s attention, and feather a saucer over the outstretched stick of Calvin DeHaan to give Hertl one of his easier goals of the week. Since this line came together, they’ve been making the NHL look easy, and that’s why all three of them are here.

5. Antti Suomela

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week310110454.65

How about the moxie on the new kid?

Suomela has been a huge driver of play in the Sharks’ bottom six all year, and was finally rewarded for his efforts with his first NHL goal on Friday night in Raleigh. And what a goal it was:

Suomela skates to the outside until he sees Jaccob Slavin backing off, then decides he can outmuscle Dougie Hamilton and just jump right over Mrazek, pulling the puck around the pads and back to his forehand at the last possible second to get himself on the board and into all of our hearts. What I really like about this goal is that it looks like Joonas Donskoi is open behind him and waiting for a drop pass, but Suomela looks like he just decides that he doesn’t want assists tonight! Not tonight!

Hono(u)rable Mentions

Erik Karlsson: Karlsson is dominating in every way except points every night. Pretty soon here the floodgates will open and he’ll put in seven pucks against the Kings or something and we’ll all understand.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic: Just when he thought he was out, Pete DeBoer pulls him back in... to a defense pairing with Justin Braun. His impact and production has lessened without Karlsson on the ice with him, as we’d expect, I just want him to know that we don’t blame him. We don’t blame you, Eddie, we still love you.

Brenden Dillon: You know why. We all know why.