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Hertl gives Sharks fans hope
Czech teen makes team better, younger
10/9/13 - By Paul Krill -

Where did they find this kid? After watching Tomas Hertl tally six goals in two games, I am wondering how this kid from the Czech Republic ever slipped to the 17th pick of the draft in 2012. He follows up his two-goal game on Saturday with four goals on Tuesday, including a trick move on the fourth goal that must have left Rangers goalie Martin Biron embarrassed.

This smiling teenager who barely speaks English (which is a bit of a problem now that he's having microphones stuck in his face nightly) is making Sharks GM Doug Wilson look like a genius. (Hertl's mother was in the stands Tuesday night to witness The Thomas Hertl Show in person. Nice human interest angle there.)

Of course, the performances Hertl put on in the second and third games of the season are not going to happen every night. There will be nights - many nights, even - where he simply doesn't score a goal at all. Or even get a point. Those are destined to happen. All 29 other teams are now going to have Hertl front and center on their radar. But we should all feel great about having Hertl on our team.

As for the Sharks' 9-2 drubbing of the Rangers (Remember how many years it took for the Sharks to even get a single point against the Rangers? It was a long time.), we have to put it in perspective. The Rangers' best player, Rick Nash, was knocked out of the game early. And the team probably didn't even check into its San Jose hotel until 2 am the following morning.

The tired Rangers played in LA the night before and likely missed the 11:30 pm San Jose airport curfew, meaning the team would have had to take a midnight ride down Route 880 from Oakland to get to San Jose. The Sharks, meanwhile, were well-rested, having not played since Saturday.

It's fun to enjoy these nightly, early season victories by the Sharks. I, for the moment, need to put aside the issue in which there is often no correlation between regular season performance and subsequent playoff performance. (For reference, see: 2009 President's Trophy-winning Sharks eliminated in first round; 2012 Kings win Stanley Cup after barely squeezing into the playoffs with the eighth seed.)

Right now, let's just see how far Hertl can take us. I figure, a strong rookie season is one in which a player tallies 20 goals. Hertl is 30 percent of the way there three games into the season, with 79 games to go. It sounds ridiculous except that it's all actually happening.

Hertl and players such as Logan Couture and, for Tuesday night, at least, Matt Nieto, are making a mockery of the notion that this Sharks team has simply gotten too old and is its past its prime. Maybe the window on a Stanley Cup championship is still open after all.

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