Sharks' Tierney hopes to 'make this chance worth it' with Hertl out

Sharks' Tierney hopes to 'make this chance worth it' with Hertl out

SAN JOSE – There was a frightening moment for Sharks center Chris Tierney on Monday against New Jersey, when a hard shot point shot by Reid Boucher deflected off of Tommy Wingels’ stick and smacked the 22-year-old squarely in the face.

The immediate concern, of course, was for Tierney’s well being, as the puck hit dangerously close to his left eye. Thank goodness he was wearing a visor.

“[At] the moment you’re just hoping that it’s not too bad. … Just pretty lucky that it wasn’t worse,” said Tierney, who didn't skate on Tuesday to allow the swelling to go down.

From a team standpoint, the Sharks were also lucky that Tierney is OK. They’re going to need him even more now that Tomas Hertl will be out for the next several weeks with a right knee sprain, as he takes over as the third line center role for at least the time being.

Like many of the Sharks’ forwards, it’s been a slow start offensively for Tierney. He scored his first goal of the year earlier in that game on Monday, whipping a wrist shot past Keith Kinkaid on a shorthanded rush. For the season, he has five points (1g, 4a) in 19 games and minus-2 rating.

“I felt [my game has] been pretty good the last maybe week or so,” Tierney said on Wednesday. “Kind of up and down, obviously, so far this season. Felt pretty good last game, and a couple games on the road trip early on I felt pretty good. Just trying to build on last game.”

Pete DeBoer said: “He’s still a young player. He’s growing his game I think every time he gets out there, but for me there’s no doubt he’s a full-time NHL player, where last year at this time that was a question mark.”

There are some facets of Tierney’s game, though, that could use improvement. He continues to have some concerning nights in the faceoff circle, including taking an 0-for-8 on Nov. 15 in Carolina and following that up with a 2-for-9 against St. Louis two nights later. For the season, he’s at 45.3 percent.

The advanced stats have Tierney’s shot-attempt percentage in close games at 48.36, the lowest mark on the team among regulars.

Perhaps now that that first goal is out of the way, though, he can get going. He’s got a great opportunity in front of him, and among the players that have to step up in Hertl’s absence, Tierney’s name is at the top of the list.

“Whenever a player like Tomas goes down everybody has got to step up, especially centermen,” he said. “That’s kind of a void that needs to be filled. I’m going to do the best I can to make this chance worth it, and try to improve and get better.”

* * *

Doug Wilson gave a little more detail on Hertl’s “minor procedure” that the 23-year-old was scheduled to undergo on Wednesday. The general manager confirmed that the injury wasn’t as severe as the one he suffered his rookie season when he required the MCL and PCL ligaments to be repaired.

“There’s no structural damage that rest won’t cure,” Wilson said. “[The] small procedure that we’re looking to do is almost like an internal bracing. It’s not repairing anything. The timeline works well, and it’s something that will support and maybe prevent this type of setback from happening.”

Will Hertl be out days, weeks or months?

“I think we’re looking at weeks. That type of sprain, he healed up last year, it takes some time. The reason for this small procedure is to make sure…it wasn’t really a major hit. This will prevent that from happening in the future.”

Hertl injured his knee for at least the third time in his career on Nov. 17 in St. Louis on what looked like a relatively innocent collision with the Blues’ Jori Lehtera in the second period.

After beating Vegas, Sharks can't suffer emotional letdown vs. Avalanche


After beating Vegas, Sharks can't suffer emotional letdown vs. Avalanche

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks and Avalanche enter their second-round series of the NHL playoffs on very different pages. San Jose will be just three days removed from their Game 7 overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, while the Avs haven't played since booting the Calgary Flames from the playoffs on April 19. 

When asked if there was an advantage to not having time to get rusty, Sharks’ coach Peter DeBoer tried to suppress a laugh. 

“If you’re asking me if I’d rather have a week off, I’ll take the week off,” he told NBC Sports California with a smile.

Granted, San Jose is dealing with multiple injuries sustained during their contentious first-round bout with the Golden Knights. But more than anything, DeBoer wants his team to be able to keep their intensity high after a come-from-behind series win over Vegas. Extracurriculars, off-ice chatter, and back-to-back games going extra long can really zap the energy out of a team, and San Jose has to be ready to bounce back from that. 

“I’m more worried about our emotional level than our physical,” DeBoer admitted. “You’re fighting for your life for three games in a row, that taxes you emotionally. So we’ve got to get our emotional levels back up when we come out on the ice on Friday night.”

There is one advantage San Jose has over their next opponent, however: getting to start the series in their own building.

“It’s nice to not be traveling today to Colorado,” DeBoer said. “It’s nice, especially after a seven-game series, to not have to travel.”

Defenseman Brenden Dillon agreed. “I think any time you get to play at home and you don’t have to travel three or four hours, different time zones, it’s going to play to our advantage. Especially after a big series like that, a physical series where guys are banged up. Any time you’re able to sleep in your own bed I think is a positive.”

Dillon and the rest of the Sharks’ defensemen have a tall task ahead of them in shutting down Colorado’s speedy offense, which did quite a bit of damage against the Flames in their first-round series. Top-line center Nathan MacKinnon and second-line winger Mikko Rantanen led the charge with a combined 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) against Calgary, while Hobey Baker winner Cale Makar finished his first NHL playoff series with two points (one goal, one assist) and a plus-four. 

[RELATED: Sharks' Pavelski unlikely to play in Game 1 vs. Avs]

Much like shutting down Vegas’ Mark Stone line, San Jose will have to solve the MacKinnon combo if they’re going to be successful. 

“We’ve got to be aware of them,” DeBoer said, explaining that facing the Avs' offense in the playoffs will be different than facing them during the regular season. “The regular season you throw out the window this time of year. We watched them against Calgary and what they did to them against a really good d-corps. We know what we’re dealing with and that’s going to be the challenge of the series.”

Sharks' Joe Pavelski day-to-day but unlikely to play in Game 1 vs. Avalanche

Sharks' Joe Pavelski day-to-day but unlikely to play in Game 1 vs. Avalanche

SAN JOSE – Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer is classifying Joe Pavelski as day-to-day after the captain sustained a scary injury during San Jose's Game 7 win against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.

Pavelski left Game 7 at the 9:13 mark of the third period after getting cross-checked off a faceoff by Cody Eakin and falling to the ice and hitting his head. No. 8 was bleeding profusely and had to be helped off the ice by a few of his teammates with a towel being held to his head. DeBoer wouldn’t specify exactly what Pavelski’s ailment was, but said the top-line forward was “feeling the effects” of the injury and likely won’t be in the lineup for Game 1 of the Sharks' second-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche.

“It could’ve been worse, you could’ve been dealing with a fractured skull,” DeBoer told the media after Thursday’s morning skate. “Thankfully, we weren’t.”

Pavelski did not take the ice for practice Thursday, although the press was told he was in the building.

Teammates Melker Karlsson and Tim Heed were also missing from practice Thursday morning. Joonas Donskoi, who missed Game 7 against the Knights with an unspecified injury, skated in a non-contact orange sweater early Thursday morning but left the ice before practice got underway. Micheal Haley returned to practice for the first time since sustaining an injury during Game 3 against the Knights.

When questioned about the status of players missing from practice, DeBoer chalked it up to the team being banged-up just like every other team still in the hunt for the Stanley Cup.

“Like anybody this time of year, we have a lot of game-time decisions,” DeBoer said.

[RELATED: NHL apologizes to Vegas for mistake on major penalty call]

The Sharks will open up their second-round series against the Avalanche at SAP Center on Friday.