Tomas Hertl

Hertl responds to demotion, back on Sharks’ top line

After an ugly slump that saw him dropped to the fourth line, San Jose sophomore Tomas Hertl has responded with four points in his last four games and, on Tuesday, a promotion to the club’s No. 1 unit prior to tonight’s game in Florida.

“It was a message,” head coach Todd McLellan said of Hertl’s demotion, per CSN Bay Area. “But it was also to reset him and to restart him.”

Hertl, 20, has seven points through 16 games this season — a decent clip, but less than the 0.68 points-per-game he averaged during 37 contests in his rookie campaign (Hertl finished with 15 goals and 25 points in 37 games). There are heightened expectations for the former first-round pick but, according to McLellan, Hertl is still learning the ropes of the NHL — especially since his first year was cut short with a significant knee injury.

“We can’t get fooled or tricked into the fabulous start that he had,” McLellan said. “He settled in and played like a rookie last year, and he’s still at that stage. I’ve banged that drum 100 times now.

“I think Tomas is getting better as the games go on. You see him more involved.”

PHT Morning Skate: Tarasenko’s goal is even better in flip book form


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The case for Marc-Andre Fleury’s contract extension. (Pensburgh)

The Chicago Blackhawks are happy with their goaltending so far. (

Is it wrong to deem Patrik Elias “over the hill?” The Newark Star-Ledger argues that it’s an unfair description. (Newark Star-Ledger)

Tomas Hertl and the sophomore slump. (Puck Daddy)

Alex Ovechkin is now one of 30 people who hold NHL franchise scoring records. How does he compare to the other 29? (Japers Rink)

Interesting stuff on the original Rocket Richard Trophy. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

Jason Spezza finds his copy of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and urges us not to panic. (Dallas Morning News)

Vladimir Tarasenko’s highlight reel goal against the New York Rangers inspired this beautiful “animated” treatment:

Compare it to the actual goal:

Slumping Caps to keep Wilson with Ovechkin, Backstrom


Losers in five of their last six, the Washington Capitals are looking to bump the slump tonight at home against Calgary — and they’ll be leaning on their new-look top line to get it done.

Sophomore power forward Tom Wilson, playing in just his fourth game of the year, will stick with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin after the trio joined forces for the first time in Sunday’s loss to Arizona. While the move might come as a surprise to some — Wilson was a fourth-liner for almost all of last year — it’s something that head coach Barry Trotz has wanted to implement for a while.

From the Washington Post:

Before Wilson fractured his fibula in what the Capitals called “a fall,” Coach Barry Trotz envisioned the 20-year-old skating beside Ovechkin and Backstrom, complementing the skilled top-line cornerstones with a physicality — “a bite,” Trotz called it. But the injury demanded patience, months of it, and accepting that Wilson needed time to heal before that possibility could become reality.

“He can also keep, as I say, the flies off him, if people want to take liberties,” Trotz said. “I know both [Ovechkin and Backstrom] can take care of themselves pretty well, but when you see 6-foot-5 young Mr. Wilson out there as well, who’s got a little bit of an edge, you think twice.”

Against Arizona, Wilson played a career-high 15:04 and tied Ovechkin with a team-high five hits, playing the big-bodied power role the club envisioned when it selected Wilson 16th overall at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft — one spot ahead of San Jose sniper Tomas Hertl.

“We don’t have enough net presence,” Trotz explained, per “We don’t have a lot of interior play. We need to be a better cycle team, we need to be a better down-low, filter-everything-to-the-net type of team. If we’re going to have success, we’re not at the net enough for me.

“If we’re at the net a little bit more, we’re going to keep things alive, we’re going to score a few more goals.”

Related: Trotz: ‘Some of the behavior has to change’

Video: Cold no more — Hertl finally scores

Tomas Hertl went into tonight’s game against the New York Islanders with just one assist in his last eight contests and was demoted to the fourth line as a result. For a guy that’s found success wherever he’s played — including his NHL rookie season — this has been a new experience for him.

“It’s a little tough for me because on my last team, too, I’ve never been this long of a time with no scoring,” Hertl told CSN Bay Area prior to the game. “It’s hard. I just keep working.”

His hard work finally paid off tonight. During a Sharks power-play in the first period, he shot the puck behind the net and then got in front of Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak so that he was in position to capitalize on a pass from Tommy Wingels.

Sharks send struggling sophomore Hertl to fourth line


It sounds like San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl will leave the nurturing cocoon that is the Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski line. In fact, there might be some chance that he’ll watch Saturday’s game against the New York Islanders* in street clothes.

In other words, Hertl’s been bumped down to the fourth line and may even be a healthy scratch tonight, according to’s Kevin Kurz.

Update: Kurz reports that doesn’t sound like Hertl will sit out tonight’s game.

Really, when you look at the numbers, it’s easy to see why.

After showing some of that rookie year promise in his first four games (two goals on just six shots), the 20-year-old hasn’t scored another goal. He only has one assist in his last eight games. Hertl’s possession stats are fine, yet he’s not a defensive dynamo at this point in his career, so such a prolonged slump does indeed call for action.

As Kurz would say, he’s riding the “struggle bus.”

Honestly, as electric as his Dustin Brown-abbreviated debut season was, those of us who’ve been around the Jonathan Cheechoo/Sergei Samsonov block wondered how much of Hertl’s brilliant work came down to lining up with Thornton.

Even if “Jumbo Joe” inflates his numbers, the Sharks still have plenty to gain in getting Hertl back on track. Maybe a demotion or even a night in the press box will do the still-promising young forward some good.

* – Airing on NBCSN, by the way.