Striker Tomas Hertl returned to training today after going through the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol for the past two weeks and could be an option to play Friday when the Haie face the Anaheim Ducks.
Hertl ran with Timo Meier and Rudolfs Balcers in the practice on Wednesday in the SAP Center on the same line. Meier has missed the last two games with a lower body injury and is considered commonplace but could also be an option to play on Friday when the Sharks start a four game road trip.
“I want to see how he feels here in the next few days,” said Boughner Hertl. “I’m glad we have a little two-day break in our schedule in which he can get some practice time.”
Hertl has not played since February 22, when the Sharks faced the Minnesota Wild. He appeared on the NHL’s COVID list two days later when his test positive caused the Sharks to close their practice facility for two days and postpone a scheduled game with the Vegas Golden Knights on February 25th.
Boughner said Hertl was tired after doing some off-ice conditioning on Tuesday, adding that it had nothing to do with COVID. The Sharks are due to train again Thursday morning before leaving for Anaheim. Hertl has a small window in which to build up his stamina before possibly playing in a game.
Before he was no longer available, Hertl had an average of more than 19 minutes of ice time per game. Used in all situations, including power play and penalty shootouts, he is the leader of the Sharks.
“He was training yesterday, doing some off-ice stuff and I know he was feeling extremely tired,” said Boughner. “He’s deconditioned so we have to use our heads here and when he plays it can be a situation where we have to hold back his Ice Age a bit to see how he feels.”
The Sharks went 2-3-1 without Hertl and finished eighth in the West Division on Wednesday with a 9-11-3 record. With 21 points they are seven points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the fourth and final playoff place.
Of the 33 remaining Sharks games, 18 are to be played in the SAP Center. A makeup date for the February 25 game with the Golden Knights is not yet known. The Sharks also have 17 games to go against the three teams not currently in the playoffs – Anaheim, Arizona and Los Angeles.
After playing the Ducks on Friday and Saturday, the Sharks will face the Golden Knights on March 15th and 17th. The Sharks end the month with two games each against St. Louis, Los Angeles, Arizona and Minnesota with the series vs. Coyotes on March 26th and 27th being their only two games on the road during this time.
“Of course there are no easy games for our team,” said Boughner. “Every game becomes a fight, everyone is in the same situation. But our attitude is to score some points, get back home, and if you start checking our schedule over the next few weeks at home, we’re not playing the world’s Colorado and Vegas and there’s a chance there to do this we scratch our way back. ”