Tomas Hertl was sent back to San Jose for an MRI ahead of the final game of the Sharks’ six-game road trip, and it appears he’ll be out of the lineup longer than some would have expected.
In the two campaigns since returning from a brutal knee injury that cost him 45 games of his rookie campaign, Tomas Hertl has generally been a picture of health. He’s missed one game in the past two regular seasons, taking up full-time duty in the middle six of the San Jose roster and setting career highs in goals and points along the way.
But that period of extended health ended in the post-season when he suffered a knee injury and missed the final four games of the Stanley Cup final, which in turn caused him to miss the World Cup of Hockey, and now there’s a chance the Sharks could be set to go without their third-line center for longer than some initially expected following another blow to his knee.
Late last week, Hertl left the Sharks at the tail end of their six-game road trip after being knocked out of a Thursday contest against the St. Louis Blues. Ahead of Saturday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes, it was reported that Hertl was set to undergo an MRI on his right knee.
Though no official word has come down on the exact nature of Hertl’s injury, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz has reported that it’s going to be “weeks, not days” that Hertl’s out of action. The good news, however, is that Kurz also reported Hertl would not require surgery.
Even still, the exact nature of the injury is unknown, and there’s no doubt hope that this isn’t another ligament injury for the 23-year-old.
The initial knee injury, the worst he’s suffered in his young career, came in December 2013 when he was hit, knee-on-knee, by Los Angeles Kings winger Dustin Brown. The resulting damage to two ligaments, the MCL and PCL, put Hertl out of action for roughly four months. Brown earned a major and misconduct for the hit, but was not suspended.
While most teams losing a third- or checking-line center wouldn’t be missing too much offensive punch, that’s not quite the case when it comes to Hertl. Through 17 games this season, he has four goals and nine points — tied for third and fourth on the team, respectively — and mans the second power play unit for the Sharks. And considering San Jose has only potted four goals in their past three games, they would surely use whatever offense is available to them right now.
The result of Hertl’s injury thus far has simply been some juggling of the lines in the bottom six, and that’ll likely continue to be the case moving forward.
Luckily for the Sharks, they’ll spend most of the next three weeks at home, which should give Hertl the chance to be around the team and test his knee in full practice without much travel required. Eight of San Jose’s next 10 games are at home, and the Sharks won’t leave California again until Dec. 13.
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