Tomas Hertl was absent from San Jose’s practice, leaving his status for Game 3 in question.
The San Jose Sharks returned to the ice for practice on Friday after Thursday was a travel day as team teal returned from Pittsburgh, trailing this Stanley Cup finals series by two games to none.
One important member wasn’t out there for practice and that was Tomas Hertl, who has arguably been the best forward for San Jose thus far.
According to head coach Peter DeBoer, it was just a “maintenance day” for Hertl, although as Chris Johnston notes, DeBoer didn’t say he was certainly going to play tomorrow night.
This would obviously be huge hit for San Jose if Hertl is unable to go in Game 3. Hertl has been a formidable presence on the top line for the Sharks in these playoffs alongside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.
Hertl scored the opening goal for team teal in the Finals and has five shots on goal through the first two games, not including the three goal posts he hit in Game 2.
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He’s been around the action and made an impact for the Sharks with his youthful exuberance and ability to protect the puck in the offensive zone.
In 20 postseason games, Hertl has registered six goals and five assists to go along with a plus-eight rating.
In his absence, Melker Karlsson was bumped up to the top line, while Patrick Marleau was back alongside Logan Couture while Dainius Zubrus checked back in on the fourth line according to Kevin Kurz of Comcast Sportsnet.
It will be interesting to see how DeBoer decides to ice his lineup in Game 3 as the Sharks need to find a way to generate more offense.
If Hertl’s out of the lineup, that’s a huge blow to an attack that’s been held in check thus far. I’d still guess he will play in Game 3, and if he does, then it leaves open the question on whether Marleau will be a second-line winger or third-line center.
Marleau was placed in the third-line pivot role with Joel Ward taking his place on the second line in the third period of Game 2, and the Sharks enjoyed a little more success. Whether DeBoer goes back to his initial lines or continues with how they ended on Wednesday night will be intriguing to see.
Regardless, San Jose needs a healthy Hertl and his teammates to come through and deliver a huge performance in Game 3 as the Sharks face their biggest contest of the season.