Player Power Rankings, Week 6: Burns Notice

I was saying Boo-urns.

The Sharks took us for quite a ride this week. A wacky and exciting win over the Minnesota Wild at home faded quickly into tragedy, as the Sharks dropped both games of a road back to back in Dallas and St. Louis, including getting shut out by Chad Johnson and his Blues. After allowing three goals in every one of their last nine games, the Sharks finally played some defense last night holding the Calgary Flames to one measly tally, and they salvaged a .500 record from the week that was.

Last night’s victory was the start of a long home stand for our Sharkos, but they won’t have this opportunity to rest on their laurels. In the remaining five games at home in the coming weeks, only two of the Sharks’ opponents are out of a playoff position, and one of them just handed the Sharks a shut out. If San Jose can replicate the game they played last night, and put those two road embarrassments out of their minds forever, this stretch could be a great opportunity to bank some standings points.

Now that we’re all optimistic again after Sunday’s bounce back performance, let’s dig into the positive vibes!

1. Brent Burns

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week4044421655.48

Last week: 2

The wookie is earning his keep. Brent Burns is doing everything asked of him this season, as long as defense is not asked of him, which it generally is not. Burns leads the Sharks in points with 20, trailing only Thomas Chabot and Morgan Rielly among blueliners in the NHL. This week, Burns led the squad in points, assists, shots, and shot attempts, and recorded the team’s fifth highest shot attempt share at even strength. If Burns can keep up some percentage of this pace (he probably can’t), he’ll be in line for career numbers.

Burns is playing off of his own reputation here. Burns is sliding into a shooting position at the circle when he receives the puck and, even though he slides right through it, you can see goaltender Devan Dubnyk bite on the shot as Burns lets it go. The Great Bearded One has his hips aligned in such a way that the pass is a little awkward, but it lulls Dubnyk into dropping his pads and committing to his position just long enough for Marcus Sorensen to see an empty net.

2. Joe Pavelski

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week4224341150

The captain himself, Joe Pavelski, shared the week’s points lead with Burns with four. In a quirk of scoring maths, Pavelski picked up his first two assists of the season this week after holding an 8-0-8 stat line for a few days. The captain’s two goals led our teal friends this week, and his tally in Dallas was particularly Pavelski-esque:

Very few players in the NHL tip pucks on net like Joe Pavelski, and even fewer of them do it from their knees like Joe Pavelski. As he does, Pavelski gets knocked to his knees right in the slot, but does not lose track of the puck. Once he sees it on Burns’ tape, he makes the same read that Dubnyk did a few days earlier, only this time it’s the right one. Pavs expertly angles his stick to knock Burns’ slap pass past Anton Khudobin and home.

3. Evander Kane

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week4213301154.69

After 11 straight games without finding the back of any nets, Evander Kane finally got off the proverbial schneid this week with two tallies, sharing the team lead in that category with his captain. Kane has not fallen off of his rootin’ tootin’ shootin’ ways, and still leads the Sharks with 71 shots on goal on the season, a number that sits tied with the other Kane (the Patrick one) for fourth in the NHL. When the Sharks acquired Kane, much was made about his shoot-first mentality and his goal-scoring ability. It was refreshing this week to see that the latter has kept pace with the former.

This is a bit of a non-sequitur from Kane’s shot rates, but this play is just too good not to highlight. Kane’s patience here is amazing, and he draws the attention of both Flames defenders for an absurdly long time. Kane waits behind the net for just long enough for Joonas Donskoi to take up position in the slot, and then surprising a defender staring right at him by passing the puck right through him.

4. Timo Meier

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week4112141652.94

Last week: 1

Speaking of shot rates, Timo Meier can never be far from this list or from our hearts. After sitting atop these very rankings for the last two weeks in a row, Meier’s demotion down here to fourth is not a knock on his play as much as it is a knock on the Sharks’ play as a whole during a rocky stretch. Still, Meier leads the Sharks in goals on the season and is second in points and in shots. As long as there’s time for Timo, there’s Timo time.

With the help of a slick pick from Logan Couture, Meier dangles through Greg Pateryn and Nick Seeler en route to a pretty and deceptive pass to Couture on the doorstep. Meier’s ability to keep the puck protected from Seeler’s probing blade is on full display here and led directly to a series of excellent scoring chances.

5. Joe Thornton

TimeGames PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsPrimary PointsPenalty MinutesShots on Goal5v5 adj Corsi for %
This Week411212860.87

Joe Thornton may have taken a slight step back in influence and impact on the team as he ages, but we’re all on board with celebrating his 1500th NHL game this week. While he didn’t quite hit goal number 400 (stay tuned next week), he made his mark on the Sharks’ games over the past few days, leading the team in shot attempt share at the tender, young, and impressionable age of 39.

It isn’t pretty, but it’s a very Jumbo goal, in that he scores without actually shooting. Thornton was probably going for a screen, using his very large frame to block the eyes of Dubnyk as Marcus Sorensen let fly, but the puck bounces off Joe and over Dubnyk’s shoulder. As a result, we’ll be on eggshells for the next few days until Joe gets his 400th. Godspeed.

Hono(u)rable mentions

Marcus Sorensen: Sorensen’s three-point night powered the Sharks by the Wild on Tuesday, including the aforementioned bounce off of Thornton. If the Sharks can continue to get scoring like this from their depth players, they’ll be in a great position come playoff time to make some real noise.

Antti Suomela: Suomela clearly did not take his ill-advised healthy scratch personally, as he scored in his first game back hosting the Wild, and it was a beauty. The Finn continues to dominate his center position even after being bumped down to the fourth line to make room for Jumbo’s triumphant return.

Erik Karlsson: Karlsson is still leading the Sharks in 5-on-5 ice time, and it seems that the coaching staff is getting on board with our desperate need for a Karlsson goal. Our very favorite Swedish pirate was second on the team in offensive zone start percentage and in shot attempts, so at this rate it’s only a matter of time.