Peter DeBoer’s San Jose Sharks will be facing elimination — and the prospect of watching the Stanley Cup slip away — Thursday evening, and if reports are to be believed, it will make for the third game in a row that Tomas Hertl is out of the lineup. DeBoer isn’t about to rule Hertl out, however.
According to reports out of the Czech Republic, Hertl’s home country, the winger won’t be able to get back into action this season due to a knee injury, which would be the same ailment that kept him out of Games 3 and 4 of the series. Asked about Hertl’s status, though, DeBoer wouldn’t budge from his previous stance that the 22-year-old is day-to-day and could return at any moment.
“(There has been) improvement every day that I’ve seen him…I term him as day-to-day,” DeBoer said. “This time of year, guys find an inner strength and play with injuries. I mean, that’s just what these guys do at this level. I’m not ruling him out for any games.” Read more
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. Read more
SAN JOSE – Faced with the prospect of becoming just the sixth team in history to overcome a 2-0 deficit in the Stanley Cup final, the San Jose Sharks found out Saturday morning that the task will be that much more difficult after announcing Tomas Hertl will not be available for Game 3.
There is no sugar coating how much of a blow this is to the Sharks. As sub-par as they were in Games 1 and 2, Hertl was their best forward in both games and was one of the few Sharks who was an offensive threat. He twice hit the post in Game 2 and was tied with Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture with eight shot attempts over the two games. Hertl appeared to be injured after taking a hard hit from Patric Hornqvist of the Penguins in the third period of Game 2. He skated in a track suit and did not practice with the team Friday, so the Sharks were not unprepared for this possibility.
Alexander Steen has undergone shoulder surgery, and it sounds like Team Sweden will need to name at least one replacement player for the upcoming World Cup. There’s also a possibility the St. Louis Blues could be without one of their top-line wingers to start the 2016-17 season.
According to the Blues, Steen will be re-evaluated in sixteen weeks after the successful surgery, but the timeline for his return is anywhere from 4-6 months. That sets Steen’s earliest return date at Oct. 3, two days after the conclusion of the World Cup, and puts his return for the start of the upcoming campaign in jeopardy.
“Alexander suffered the original shoulder injury in Feb. 20 in Arizona,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said in a release. “He rehabbed and worked hard to get back and be a big part in the team’s run to the Conference Final. Alex is one of the most dedicated players in the NHL when it comes to fitness and we’re thrilled things went well today.”
Following the initial injury, Steen, 32, missed 15 contests, but he was able to return with six games remaining in the season and played a major part during the Blues’ post-season run. Read more
PITTSBURGH – It bodes well for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Stanley Cup chances if the term “big line” applies to any number of their forward trios. Sidney Crosby between Conor Sheary and Patric Hornqvist? Sure, that’s a big line, by virtue of Sid playing on it. The ‘HBK’ line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel has been the talk of the playoffs.
But the line du jour giving opponents fits? Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust and Chris Kunitz. Rust has scored in three straight games dating back to the Eastern Conference final, including a breakaway dagger in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, both goals in a 2-1 Game 7 victory and the first tally of the night in Game 1 of the final against the San Jose Sharks. Each of those Rust goals was assisted by Malkin or Kunitz.
And this line could hold the key to the rest of the final – because its fate could go in so many different directions.
PITTSBURGH – In a Stanley Cup final where speed could end up being a determining factor, the San Jose Sharks got a lot faster for Game 2 when they announced winger Matt Nieto would be drawing back into the lineup after missing eight games with what is suspected to be a left shoulder injury.
Nieto has been out of the Sharks lineup since crashing into the net in Game 6 of their second-round series against the Nashville Predators. He was ready to go for Game 1 of the final, but the Sharks elected to sit him out. But after seeing how fast the Penguins are as a team and needed players who can keep up to that speed, Nieto gets the call for Game 2.
CRANBERRY, PA – More than an hour after the Pittsburgh Penguins completed their workout Tuesday afternoon, injured winger Bryan Rust went out on his own and worked with the Penguins coaches.
Wearing a Penguins track suit and ball cap, Rust took a number of reps with coach Mike Sullivan on the ice and didn’t seem to be hindered in terms of speed. He worked out for about 25 minutes and largely did skating and shooting drills. Rust was injured in the third period of Game 1 of the final when he took a hit from Patrick Marleau where there was contact with the head. Rust spent about seven minutes in the Quiet Room, then returned to the ice for one more shift and was hit into the boards by Marc-Edouard Vlasic before leaving the game for good.
PITTSBURGH – Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks waited 1,576 regular season and playoff games to play in his first Stanley Cup final game and he doesn’t think he should have to wait any time to play his second. He likely won’t.
Expect the NHL to take a long, hard look at his hit on Bryan Rust of the Pittsburgh Penguins early in the third period of Game 1, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the NHL to impose any supplementary discipline. Marleau took a minor for an illegal check to the head when he caught Rust in open ice. Rust went to the Quiet Room and was cleared to come back to the game, but played just one shift before calling it a night.