After hitting 'wall,' Sharks' lineup may have more traditional look

Curtis Pashelka, The Mercury News on

Published in Hockey

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said he might go back to dressing 12 forwards and six defensemen for Friday's game against the Los Angeles Kings even if Tomas Hertl is unavailable to play.

DeBoer labeled Hertl, who has missed the last four games with a lower body injury, as doubtful to play against the Kings. The team will know more Friday morning with the game, the Sharks' last at home this month, at 1 p.m.

The Sharks looked lethargic in their 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday as they played with 11 forwards and seven defensemen for the fourth straight game without Hertl. The Sharks put 33 shots on net, but felt they didn't get enough traffic in front of Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck and lost too many one-on-one battles for the puck.

"I thought we hit the wall a little bit last night," DeBoer said Thursday. "So we might have to change that up."

Hertl skated again Thursday and said there's a chance he could return to play the Kings. The Sharks are 3-1-0 without him in the lineup, but several of their forwards have had to play more minutes than usual, especially with the team having to kill 17 penalties in that time.

In the last four games, Evander Kane has averaged 23 minutes and 41 seconds of ice time, second most behind Chicago's Patrick Kane (24:18) among all NHL forwards during that span. Timo Meier has averaged :20:04 per game, roughly three minutes more per game than he averaged last season.


The Sharks are also in a busy part of their schedule. as Wednesday's game was their fifth in nine days. After Friday's afternoon game at SAP Center, the Sharks fly to Arizona to face the Coyotes at 5 p.m. (PST).

In Thursday's practice, the Sharks still had Barclay Goodrow as the second line center. The fourth line had Antti Suomela at center and Dylan Gambrell and Noah Gregor.

"I don't want to be there to just be there. It's not helping," Hertl said. "I want to be 100% sure I can help to win the game, and finish the game, too. I don't want to be in there for the first and (tell DeBoer) 'I don't feel right, I can't play any more.'

"It's a big decision and I want to make the right (one). We're not in the playoffs right now. For sure, I want to be back and help the guys."


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