The Morning After: Third line gets to work
After a rough night against the Blackhawks, Hertl and company excelled against the Flames.
Tomas Hertl, Matt Nieto and Tommy Wingels received some not-so-great press after Wednesday's loss to the Blackhawks. Hertl and Wingels were benched for the majority of the third period and head coach Peter DeBoer made it clear it was based on their play.
There were no such issues in Saturday's win against Calgary. Hertl and company were amongst the Sharks leaders in corsi differential and anyone with eyes noticed Hertl throughout the contest. He finished with a +7 corsi differential, the third-highest on the team, and was joined by Nieto (5) and Wingels (3) as having standout night.
Hertl has been one of the Sharks best players this year — his 53.3 corsi-for percentage is third-best on the team — but he hasn't had much to show for it in the way of points. On Saturday, Hertl both scored and added an assist while Wingels did the same and Nieto also had an assist.
So much of sports can be needlessly narrative based, but man sometimes the randomness of sports can really line things up nicely. Wingels and Hertl accounted for the Sharks 2-0 lead after the first period and it seemed like the Sharks were all but unstoppable.
And then Hertl followed it up with this beauty against Jonas Hiller, who just...is so bad at hockey.
The goals are just Hertl's third and Wingels' second of the year. That certainly understates Hertl's contributions to the team; Wingels, on the other hand, uh...well, hey, it's nice he's finding the back of the net even if his play leaves a whole lot to be desired. His corsi for percentage of 45.42 is among the worst on the team, but his penalty differential (+5) is the best on the squad — so it's nice to see that at least that area hasn't regressed.
Without Logan Couture and Justin Braun the Sharks are far from a complete team. The Zubrus signing has (it appears) helped shore up the fourth line a bit, though Mike Brown remains a staple. Regardless, in fill-in duty Hertl has hardly missed a beat and it's nice to see him rewarded for what has been an outstanding season. Even the best players have bad nights, but it's great to see him and the rest of the third line jump out and break themselves out of a rut.
Bring on the Penguins.