Sharks

Hertl activated, will play for Sharks against Oilers

Hertl activated, will play for Sharks against Oilers

SAN JOSE – Sharks forward Tomas Hertl has been activated from injured reserve, and is will play in Thursday night’s Sharks-Oilers game at SAP Center.

Hertl, 23, has been out since sustaining a right knee sprain during a game with the Blues on Nov. 17. He underwent what the team called a “minor procedure” on Nov. 22.

“It was a long time and a lot of skating, but finally [a] game,” said Hertl, who has nine points (4g, 5a) in 17 games. “For sure, I’m excited. It will be hard, but I can’t wait to play again tonight in a home game.”

Hertl has had at least three procedures on his right knee, including a PCL and MCL repair following his collision with Dustin Brown on Dec. 19, 2013. His most recent surgery was designed to prevent further injuries to the knee, after a seemingly innocent run-in with St. Louis’ Jori Lehtera was the latest to knock him from the lineup.

But the Czech native indicated he doesn’t have time to worry about any future injuries if he’s going to play his game.

“During the game I don’t have time [to think about it]. I want to just play. … After many times what happened, I’m glad I’m fine for this and I believe my head will be fine,” he said. “My game is heavy, be strong, I can’t be waiting [for] somebody [to] hit me. If puck is there I need to just go, because it’s my game – take the puck, play hard. I don’t have time [to think about] my knee.”

Hertl has missed the past 32 games, and DeBoer compared his absence to when Logan Couture was hurt for most of the first half last season while battling numerous injuries. The difference this time is that the Sharks have played well without Hertl, posting a 22-8-2 mark while he’s been out, after struggling to remain at .500 when Couture couldn't play.

“Last year, we didn’t handle that as well as we’ve handled this,” Pete DeBoer said. “I think that speaks to our depth. We’ve had young guys come in and find a way to get us through losing a real good player for [32] games.”

San Jose will put its six-game winning streak on the line against the equally hot Oilers, who are 6-0-1 in their last seven.

What does Hertl want to accomplish against Edmonton?

“Just to play the game I played before, because I feel great,” he said. “I want to for sure win because [the guys have won] six in a row. … Just be strong on the puck, don’t be nervous. For sure [it may take] a couple shifts [to get up to] speed.

“But, hopefully I can hunt [Connor] McDavid all over [the] ice tonight (laughs). That’s about it. … I want to just win tonight, that’s the goal.”

It’s unclear whether Hertl will play on the left wing of the top line or he’ll immediately return to the third line center role, where he was at the time of his injury.

“That is a thought [playing him at left wing], but you also see the value in having a center ice of [Joe] Thornton, Couture, Hertl [and Chris] Tierney,” DeBoer said. “You see the depth, and the real good teams have that type of depth up the middle. That’s what we’re weighing out. 

“Regardless of where he ends up tonight, I think long term we want him in the middle.”

* * *

The Sharks reassigned rookie forwards Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier to the AHL on Wednesday, but they did not play against the Stockton Heat. They were both recalled on Thursday.

Barclay Goodrow was reassigned to the Barracuda, while defenseman Tim Heed was recalled.
 

Sharks not satisfied with single point, believe skid will strengthen them

Sharks not satisfied with single point, believe skid will strengthen them

Well, the Sharks certainly made it interesting. Every time the Ducks scored a goal on Friday evening, the Sharks came back and were able to tie things up. They even got the game-tying goal late in the third period that took their contest into overtime – at least, before they lost 4-3.

Perhaps at a different time of year, getting their first point in five games would feel better. Not on this night. 

The focus remains on the work to be done with just seven games left in the regular season. For Team Teal, they need to clean their game up and get back into the win column.

“It’s better than nothing, but overall, we’re just not finding ways to win games now,” Timo Meier told the media in Anaheim regarding the single point. “We’ve got to find a way to win games. It’s an important time of the year. Playoffs are really close.”

San Jose put a better effort on the ice on Friday than they did the previous evening in LA against the Kings, but the opportunistic Ducks were able to bury more of their chances,

"I don’t think we gave them very much," Peter DeBoer said. "Every chance they got, they stuck in the net, though."

DeBoer was more critical of the team a second night in a row, and rightfully so. Despite outshooting the opposition, the Sharks weren’t able to find the back of the net enough times. They allowed two goals while playing on the penalty kill and tallied 14 giveaways. Plus, outside of Meier’s power-play marker, San Jose still went one-for-five on the man advantage. Despite tying the score up three times, the Sharks couldn’t keep the Ducks from responding.

Clearly, all areas of the game need to be tweaked.

“We’ve got to find a way to get an extra save, and on (the other) end we’ve got to find a way to get another goal,” DeBoer said. “We could’ve used a power-play goal tonight -- another one.”

Perhaps the only silver lining, as Meier put it, is that the Sharks are going through this stretch now instead of once they get into the playoffs. San Jose is still trying to get some of its key players healthy and into the lineup so they can make a deep playoff run with the lines and pairs they want. The goal, at least at the moment, is to make sure this five-game skid is a lesson to learn from and not a prelude to the future.

"Get stronger as a team, get tighter as a group, and learn," Meier said. "It’s going to make us stronger going into the playoffs because there are going to be lots of ups and downs coming up. It’s going to make us stronger and we’ve got to react the right way.”

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from overtime loss to Ducks

Sharks takeaways: What we learned from overtime loss to Ducks

BOX SCORE

All the Sharks needed was a win. Just one win on Friday evening against the Ducks. Two points to salvage the road trip, stop the losing streak, and get back to hunting for first place in the division.

Not surprisingly, Team Teal made things interesting with a game that stayed tied up heading down the stretch. Unfortunately for San Jose, the Ducks were the victors in overtime 4-3.

Here are three takeaways from Friday’s game:

How did the power play look?

In a few words: nonexistent until the third. San Jose had three opportunities on the man advantage through the first 40 minutes of play and couldn’t make anything happen. They even gave up a couple breaks the other way that Dell had to stop. Had the power play converted, the Sharks might’ve been up by two or three goals after two period of play.

Timo Meier came up big with the power-play goal in the third period to tie the score up 2-2. While they couldn’t capitalize on the power-play opportunity immediately followed, Meier’s marker will hopefully open up the flood gates for the power play.

Who else stepped up?

Sharks’ bench boss Peter DeBoer didn’t mince words after Thursday’s loss to the Kings, saying that the team needed someone to step up during this stretch with injured superstars and be a hero.

“You’ve got to get a great performance from somebody in a game like this and I don’t think we got that,” DeBoer said on Thursday.

In all honesty, the whole team looked better even with the loss. The fourth line had a couple very memorable shifts, cycling low and establishing pressure. Joe Thornton’s line was clicking, which was clear from Kevin Labanc’s goal.

Gustav Nyquist was a solo standout – despite not finding the back of the net, he played a heck of a game and had some incredible looks. Of course, you can’t talk about this game without talking about Justin Braun scoring the big game-tying goal in the third frame, which was his first marker since December 2.

How did Aaron Dell do?

In all fairness, Dell gave the Sharks a chance to win for the majority of the game. No. 30 has looked good in his last couple of outings – save his relief effort against the Golden Knights earlier in the week when he had little defense to help him out – and he made a couple great saves in Anaheim as well, especially when the Ducks had a couple short-handed breakaways.

Unfortunately for Dell, he gave up the two power-play goals in the third frame. While Braun was the hero and scored the tying goal late in the third to help take the game into overtime, Dell still couldn’t hold down the fort in overtime. It doesn’t matter if he’s the backup or not – at this time of the season, playing too loose late in games isn’t good.