Hertl & Tierney Keys to Sparking Sharks’ Bottom Six

(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)
Chris Tierney (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

They teamed up twice for goals in San Jose’s 5-4 loss to the Hurricanes on Saturday night and more is needed from the two young forwards. They of course being Sharks rookie Chris Tierney and second year player Tomas Hertl. If the Sharks are going to make any noise in the playoffs, the Sharks will need an increase in secondary scoring. Currently amongst the bottom third in the league in five aside scoring, the Sharks have never been known for having strong third and fourth lines during the Joe Thornton era. Hertl, possibly still recovering from last season’s knee injury has not had the same impact he had as a rookie, and Tierney has only played intermittently at the NHL level this year despite making the roster out of training camp.

The Kids Are Alright

With the Sharks struggling to find a consistency to their game, one possible solution to improving the depth scoring would be to keep Tierney in the lineup on a regular basis. It may be just two games since his latest recall, but he has multiple points in both games and gives the Sharks some skill they otherwise rarely feature on the fourth line. Granted Tierney moved up to a third line with Hertl and James Sheppard in the middle of the Carolina loss, but either way his presence makes the fourth line better. When injured forward Tommy Wingels returns from injury in the coming weeks, the Sharks ought to consider reverting back to a preseason line combination. During the exhibition season, Tierney was often centering the veteran Wingels and fellow rookie Barclay Goodrow. Reuniting those three together and having Sheppard and Hertl play with either rookie Daniil Tarasov or Tyler Kennedy on the other bottom six line would be much more dangerous combinations than anything with Andrew Desjardins, Mike Brown nor John Scott on them. While Desjardins is underrated, these three are pure fourth line only players with little offensive upside. The Sharks need goals, and getting young talented players into the lineup makes them better now and into the future.

(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
Tomas Hertl (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Too often have the Sharks had to overly rely on their top-six, and that has continued into this season. However, Hertl has the capability to get on a roll. We have seen flashes from him over the course of his sophomore season. A two goal, one assist effort as part of a third line against Carolina could be something to build off. It was just his ninth and 10th goals of the season in 54 games after scoring 15 in 37 games a rookie. Since San Jose has shown zero indication of putting Joe Pavelski at third line center, the Sharks need two solid bottom six lines. When Pavelski centered the third line in years past, it was a strong enough scoring line that they could get away without much of a fourth. With Pavelski on Joe Thornton’s wing though, no San Jose third line is going to be anywhere close to the third lines with Pavelski on them. Therefore, the bottom six must improve by committee. Both Hertl and Tierney have the raw talent to help elevate the third and fourth lines but they will need to build on these recent performances. If we are to believe Sharks GM Doug Wilson, there aren’t any veteran stop gaps that will be riding in on a white horse to save this team by the trade deadline. It has to come from within, and these young forwards getting a shot is the only way that is going to happen. Continuing to roll out Desjardins, Scott, and Brown isn’t going to cut it.

8 thoughts on “Hertl & Tierney Keys to Sparking Sharks’ Bottom Six”

  1. great article, Tierney is gonna be a stud, he has great hands and has tremendous playmaking ability. with the trade deadline coming up are they looking to add anything? forward or defensemen? what have YOU OR suspect?

  2. They have tried moving marleau and couture away from each other, it wasnt any better. Id stick with that line for now, and let them work out of their issues. those three have proven they can be dynamite together

  3. the biggest issue is that the Sharks have struggled within their 2nd and 3rd lines. Marleau and Couture need to be separated, neither has chemistry with the other. Put Desjardins out there with Couture and Wingels, Couture feeds of energy. Let Marleau roll with Hertl and Karlsson, see if the young guys can pull him out of his funk. Sharls issues are solvable, perhaps not to Cup contender levels. But getting that 2nd line, which is also the most expensive line they have (Wingels, Couture, Marleau is more expensive then Jumbo, Pavs, Karlsson), to function effectively, has to be a huge priority.

    • No chemistry? Marleau and Couture have been playing mostly together for years because they do play well together. That third period is something hopefully they can build off of. 12-39-83 has shown flashes lately of the play they had together down the stretch a year ago.

      • You’re not paying 20% of your payroll for a line that has occasional flashes. Couture is +2 and he’s been by far the best. Wingels -2. Nieto -8 (albeit Nieto has bounced all over the line-up) and Marleau -11.

        • Marleau’s on ice cross is +4.5, Couture’s is +1.98, Nieto +14.14 ; Plus/Minus is almost irrelevant other than to show these 3 have had very bad puck luck. The trio has below average shooting percentages compared to the rest of the league.

  4. I think the kids have done a really good job. Karlsson is off the hook and has impressed. If you want to know where to find 68 look towards the net, the kid is always around the net. The play Tierney made last night to set up Hertl on the first goal was an amazing effort, and should have lit a fire under the rest of the team . I am not a fan of Couture saying the inconsistency of this team is due to the youth. I look at the issue of inconsistency as being the result of veterans who show up occasionally. There was a total buy in in Vancouver, they dominated the Canucks, that is the kind of hockey I think this team can play on a regular basis. Inexcusable to come out flat like they did last night. WHen Wingels come back, this team should be really good. I think Desjardins time has come and gone with the Sharks.

    • Hopefully since the kids scored most of the goals, McLellan won’t go back to Scott and Hannan on Monday if Vlasic is back.

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