As if their situation wasn’t already complicated enough, the Sharks will enter a must-win Game 6 in St. Louis without forward Tomas Hertl and defenseman Erik Karlsson, while captain Joe Pavelski remains up in the air as a game-time decision.
“We’ve relied on our depth all year,” Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said. “This isn’t new to our group.
“We have depth and we have guys that can come in and get the job done.”
But the guys going are no Hertl or Karlsson.
On the backend, it will be Tim Heed that gets the call in Karlsson’s place. The 28-year-old Heed has appeared in two postseason games this spring, but has not played since San Jose’s Game 4 loss to the Golden Knights on Apr. 16. The 5-foot-11 Heed skated in 37 games during the regular season, and posted two goals and 13 points with a plus-9 rating. He’s expected to skate on a defensive pairing with Brendan Dillon.
Karlsson ranks second among all San Jose skaters with 16 points (the fifth-most in the NHL) through 19 playoff games.
Up front, the Sharks certainly have options to replace Hertl, from Dylan Gambrell to Marcus Sorensen to Micheal Haley. Gambrell played 6:10 in his lone playoff game this spring, Sorensen has five assists in 17 appearances, and the veteran Haley has zero points and six shots on goal in 10 games this spring. It’s not exactly the Murderers’ Row of bench options.
The one thing the Sharks have on their side is recent history, as they are 4-0 this spring when facing elimination.
The winner of this series will play the Boston Bruins in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.