San Jose will be without arguably their best forward as they face Pittsburgh in a critical Game 3 tonight.
What was feared yesterday became reality today.
The San Jose Sharks will be missing a key piece of their lineup tonight as head coach Peter DeBoer confirmed that 22-year-old forward Tomas Hertl won’t play in Game 3 as he’s out with a lower-body injury.
This is a huge blow to a San Jose team that is looking to get themselves right back into the thick of this series against a Pittsburgh Penguins team that has them behind the eight ball.
Hertl and the rest of his Sharks teammates trail the Penguins by a 2-0 deficit after dropping a pair of one-goal games to begin this Stanley Cup Final.
Team teal will have to find a way to generate more offense without one of their best skaters in this series.
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Hertl has been one of the few Sharks that has had some quality looks in this series as the puck has seemed to follow him around.
He scored the first Stanley Cup goal in franchise history in Game 1, and was unlucky to not find the back of the net in Game 2 as he hit the goal post on three different occasions.
Hertl is tied for third on San Jose, with Brent Burns and Joel Ward, with six postseason goals as he’s played an integral part as the third man on the Sharks potent top line.
In his absence, Dainius Zubrus will check back into the lineup, and it appears Melker Karlsson will get the first shot at replacing Hertl alongside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.
That is how they lined up yesterday in practice, but it’s sure to be a fluid situation as DeBoer will likely see how the game plays out. Karlsson makes the most sense as he spent most of last year playing alongside Thornton and Pavelski.
Regardless, the Sharks mountain just got a little bit more difficult to climb. They will need everyone throughout their lineup to step up and provide a presence in Game 3.
Luckily, San Jose does have the advantage of playing in front of their home fans as the Shark Tank is sure to be rocking.
The fans have been waiting 25 years for this moment and will be into the action long before the puck actually drops. While it’s not an ideal situation for team teal, the Sharks just need to find a way to get the job done tonight in Hertl’s absence.