Rookie Tomas Hertl took two big steps Tuesday night toward a spot on the Sharks roster when the NHL season begins Oct. 3. Hertl scored twice in San Jose's 5-0 exhibition rout of the Vancouver Canucks part of an overall solid effort that coach Todd McLellan said he was looking for before declaring the 19-year-old from the Czech Republic a lock. Still McLellan wasn't ready to punch Hertl's ticket to the NHL just yet. Asked about his play the coach said "he did a very good job again" before going on to praise others also trying to earn a spot in San Jose. Then when asked directly if he liked what he saw from Hertl McLellan gave a one-word answer -- "Yes" -- and didn't elaborate. The Sharks' other goals against Vancouver came from the usual suspects -- Dan Boyle at even strength Joe Thornton and Logan Couture on the power play -- while Antti Niemi was perfect in making 24 saves for the shutout win. But all of them already know they have a spot in the lineup when the same two teams open the regular season. Not Hertl who was credited with three shots two hits two give-aways and one take-away in his 16:48 ice time. Earlier in the day McLellan was asked if the knee injury to Raffi Torres made it a certainty that Hertl the Sharks' first-round draft pick in 2012 would go straight to the NHL without a stint with the Worcester development team. "Do I think that Tomas can play in the NHL?" McLellan responded. "I do. But he's also played against a mixture of AHL and NHL players." The game against a Vancouver lineup that featured top players such as the Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler would provide a better test the coach suggested. Hertl's first goal did come with Kesler on the ice but it wasn't a thing of beauty. Defenseman Scott Hannan fired a shot from the side boards that deflected off someone before beating Canucks goalie Eddie Lack at 10:37 of the first period. But the 6-foot-2 210-pound Hertl had worked his way to just outside the crease to create the traffic. His willingness to go into that punishing territory did not go unnoticed. "He's very competitive" Joe Thornton said of Hertl who again skated on a line with the Sharks captain and Brent Burns. "He just goes to the net. He's not afraid of that area." Hertl's second goal came at 2:25 of the third period and showed his patience as he carried the puck through the faceoff circle to the left of Lack before scoring on a 26-foot wrist shot. Hertl who speaks limited English did indicate he was happy with his performance. And made it clear he definitely is aiming to be in San Jose when the regular season starts.
Sharks' Tomas Hertl scores twice in a 5-0 exhibition win vs. the Canucks
San Jose Mercury News | Sep 25