Tomas Hertl and the sophomore slump

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October 11, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl (48) controls the puck against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period at SAP Center at San Jose. The Sharks defeated the Jets 3-0. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
October 11, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl (48) controls the puck against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period at SAP Center at San Jose. The Sharks defeated the Jets 3-0. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

There aren’t many players in the NHL that brought excitement and showed potential more than Tomas Hertl last season. Obviously, some of that is due to his incredible start (a.k.a. the end of Marty Biron), but it’s also because Hertl was just so damn fun to watch. 

So, uh, when does that show up and stay for a while?

Hertl finally scored another goal on Nov. 1 vs. the New York Islanders, a power-play tally on his only shot of the game. Previous to that, Hertl had gone through a one assist-in-eight-games stretch that saw coach Todd McLellan drop him down the lineup to the fourth line.

Said McLellan, prior to the Islander game, via the Mercury News

“I think Tomas is frustrated. Any of us would be," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We enter the National Hockey League and we take it by storm, and there's a talk of superstar, and Jaromir Jagr comparisons, and that can still happen later on. Then he gets hurt and from that point on, he's had to work hard to feel good again."

Hertl said he's been working with the Sharks coaches in the video room to go over what he's doing well and what mistakes he's making.

"For me, more skating, more stronger on puck," Hertl said. "I don't know, it's too many (times falling) on ice, not just somebody hit me and I fall. I need some goals, because last season I had more goals and this season, just two goals and one assist is not too many."

What he really needs are more shots on net.

In 37 regular-season games last year as a rookie, Hertl was limited to one shot on goal or less nine times. This season? It’s happened 10 times already, in his first 13 games. Thus, his possession numbers have tumbled from a 58.8 corsi5v5close last season to 52.0 in 13 games this season.

From the quote by McLellan, it appears that injury really knocked Hertl for a loop, both physically and from a confidence perspective. Can’t imagine it’s easy to have the hockey world shining up the Calder for you only to have it – and a spot in the Olympics – snatched away with a knee injury.

Maybe the goal vs. the Islanders jumpstarts his campaign. Something needs to. The NHL’s a better place when one of the Personifications of Hockey Joy (as we labeled him on our podcast) is thriving.