Injured Hertl to miss final game of Sharks road trip

Injured Hertl to miss final game of Sharks road trip

GLENDALE, Az. – Tomas Hertl’s road trip has ended one day early.

The Sharks center, injured in a 3-2 loss in St. Louis on Thursday, flew back to San Jose on Friday morning from Arizona where the Sharks play the Coyotes on Saturday night. 

When asked if Hertl would be getting an MRI in San Jose, coach Pete DeBoer said: “Yeah, pictures, MRI, that kind of thing.”

The 23-year-old was hurt in the second period, possibly when he collided with the Blues’ Jori Lehtera. Officially it’s a lower body injury, but replays showed it could be his right knee, which Hertl tore up in his rookie season and injured less severely in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, causing him to miss the rest of that series with the Penguins as well as the World Cup of Hockey in September.

In 17 games, Hertl has four goals and five assists for nine points. He has skated primarily as the team’s third line center for the past month.

“Any time you’re sending a guy back early on a trip to get looked at there’s concern, but you look around the league, everyone is dealing with injuries," DeBoer said. "A lot of injuries to key guys. We’ve got to continue on here.”

“He’s been through a lot for a young guy. He was playing great, arguably been one of our best players through the first [17] games and after a summer of rehab. You feel for him.”

DeBoer left the door open for Melker Karlsson to return on Saturday. The winger has missed the last two games with an injury around his left foot/ankle area after blocking a Victor Hedman shot on Nov. 12 in Tampa Bay.

Karlsson did not practice with the team on Friday at Gila River Arena, but he’s “moving much better today. All the [x-rays] have been negative,” DeBoer said.

Brent Burns and Chris Tierney, both of whom went to the dressing room for brief periods against the Blues, took maintenance days. It’s unlikely any players will be brought up from the Barracuda, though.

“We have enough players here right now even in a worst-case scenario tomorrow, so probably [no recalls],” DeBoer said.

Why the Sharks reassigning Dylan Gambrell likely isn't a Jumbo-sized move

Why the Sharks reassigning Dylan Gambrell likely isn't a Jumbo-sized move

The Sharks had a day off Monday after their long road trip. But there was still news coming out of San Jose as the team announced they reassigned forward Dylan Gambrell to the Barracuda. He is expected to play for the AHL club Monday evening when they host the Tucson Roadrunners at SAP Center.

Gambrell was called up to the big club during the Sharks’ recent five-game road trip when Joe Thornton left the trip and was placed on injured reserve. It is possible Gambrell is simply getting game time in, since he did not start for the Sharks while he was on the road with them.

Prior to being recalled, the 22-year-old forward was a key piece to the Barracuda’s season-opening win over the Ontario Reign, recording three points (2g, 1a) in that game before joining the Sharks on the road. The University of Denver product made his NHL debut for San Jose last April, playing in three games at the end of the 2017-18 regular season.

[RELATED: Sharks not panicking]

Joe Thornton played in the Sharks’ first two games of the regular season but left at the start of their five-game road trip due to an infection in his surgically-repaired knee. The team has not given a timetable as to when the 39-year-old forward will rejoin the team. Before being placed on IR, Thornton registered an assist in the Sharks’ 3-2 overtime win over the LA Kings on Friday October 5. 

Thornton is currently ranked 16th overall on the NHL’s All-Time Points Leaders list, 29 points shy of tying Teemu Selanne at 1,457 points.

Sharks 'aren't panicking yet' after road trip ends with consecutive losses

Sharks 'aren't panicking yet' after road trip ends with consecutive losses

Like with all hockey seasons, it’s easy to get caught up with how a team plays in its first couple of games. If said team does well, they’re showered with praise. And if they falter… well, you get the idea.

Following that pattern, there has been concern about the Sharks after opening up the season 2-2-1, and losing back-to-back tilts by giving up third-period leads.

But according to San Jose head coach Peter DeBoer, his team isn’t going to get too far ahead of themselves.

“We’re not 0-6. We just finished a five-game road trip at 2-2-1,” the head coach told the media after Sunday's 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

The Sharks batted .500 on their early-season roadie, collecting five of a possible ten points. So while there’s no doubt a need for improvement, DeBoer said it’s too early in the season to hit the panic button.

“We aren’t panicking yet,” he continued. “We could’ve won every game we played.”

San Jose was, in fact, on the cusp of winning the last two games of the roadie. But trouble winning faceoffs and taking too many penalties have been their demise. It also doesn’t help that, outside of an 8-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, the Sharks are having trouble finding the back of the net. 

“We’re not scoring enough, that’s the bottom line,” DeBoer summarized. “We’ve got to find a way to get another goal a night, part of that is power play and part of that is five-on-five.”

The players, for their part, know that’s something they need to work on. Especially in light of losing a lead in the third period like they did on Sunday to the Devils.

“This team has the players to get the job done,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said.  

Team Teal has the opportunity to do so when they return to San Jose for a two-game stint at home. They kick things off hosting the Buffalo Sabres Thursday evening – a team that has won three of their first five games, but has work to do on tightening up their special teams and isn’t panicking just yet.

Just like the Sharks.

“Thankfully it’s only six games (into the season) where this is happening,” Logan Couture said of correcting some of the Sharks’ woes ahead of the homestand. “We have a couple days here to regroup and get ready for Thursday.”