For the most part, the San Jose Sharks have gotten lucky on the injury front this post-season. The only injury the Sharks have had to deal with this post-season is a knock on Matt Nieto that kept the winger out of action for the Western Conference final. Beyond that, everyone has been healthy.
Or everyone had been healthy, at least. Sharks top-line winger Tomas Hertl only briefly practiced ahead of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final and even then he wasn’t in full gear. Coach Peter DeBoer said Hertl could be OK to go in Saturday’s game, but as the lineups were made official, Hertl was absent and now it looks like the lower-body injury could potentially keep him out beyond Game 3.
Meeting with the media Sunday, DeBoer announced that Hertl, 22, is still day-to-day, and after he was unavailable to suit up Saturday night, there’s concern the injury could cost him another contest in the final.
Through 20 games, Hertl has scored six goals and 11 points on the top line alongside Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton, but his absence has an impact beyond the loss of production. In Game 3, Hertl being held out of the lineup caused the Sharks to shuffle their lineup and his continued absence would create a ripple-effect.
Melker Karlsson jumped up from the fourth line to play alongside Pavelski and Thornton early in Game 3, but as the game wore on — and with the Sharks trailing in the third period — Logan Couture was moved up from the second line to take a spot on the top unit.
If Hertl can’t play in Game 4, the likely scenario sees Chris Tierney play alongside Patrick Marleau and Joonas Donskoi with the bottom-six becoming a rotating six-man unit. When Hertl came out of the lineup, Dainius Zubrus filled the hole in the lineup but saw fourth-line minutes. That’s likely to remain the case if Hertl’s out once again, especially following San Jose’s Game 3 victory.