Connect with us

Vegas Golden Knights

Hertl Can Provide Spark Golden Knights Need For The Playoffs



Tomas Hertl goes full contact Vegas Golden Knights

You need to analyze medical reports more than scouting reports to understand what happened to the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2023-24 regular-season.

The Golden Knights lost an NHL-leading 460 man-games to injury this season. The San Jose Sharks are the only other team above 400 man-games lost, and they own the league’s worst record. Vegas has pushed through the parade of injuries to claim the second wild card position in the Western Conference. This season is not like last season when coach Bruce Cassidy entered the playoffs as the Western Conference’s top seed.

But the recent play of Tomas Hertl suggests that he might be able to help the offense return to where it was the last postseason.

“He wants to be a difference maker,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “That’s what I’ve seen so far. He has been in the league a long time. Obviously, coming to a new team, at the deadline, not being able to play. I think he feels like he is trying to catch up to help us.”

Since coming off the injured list, center Hertl has had an immediate impact on the power play. The team has scored a league-leading six power play goals (54.6% power play efficiency) in that span.

The Czech standout is adding a dimension to the Vegas offense that it was lacking. “He digs in in the circles, you start with the puck more often than you are chasing it,” Cassidy said. “Net front presence…you miss that with pucks coming from the point.”

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound forward uses his size effectively. He has two goals and three points in four games.

“We don’t have a true guy that big and that effective in that role,” Cassidy said. “Mark Stone is the closest and he’s not in the lineup. You miss a bit of that. With pucks coming through from the point,  so much of the game now becomes that low-to-high game to the front of the net where you have to get some greasy goals. That’s the biggest thing that separates him from what we had. Tomas is just a bigger human being. He’s the load to handle. You always have work to see around him. It takes away from their game.”

Even though Vegas hasn’t piled up as many wins as a year ago, the team’s numbers are similar. Last season, the Golden Knights were 14th in scoring (2.24 goals) and 11th in goals-against (2.74 goals per game). This season, they are 13th in goal scoring (2.34) and 11th in goals-against (2.98).  The team’s power play efficiency was 20.3% last season and 20.2% this season.

As Hertl continues to get comfortable with his new teammates and gets his timing back, he could help the VGK offense be even better than it was last spring. Let’s not forget that the team also added Noah Hanifin who is playing 23-plus minutes per

“(Hertl) loves playing the game,” Cassidy said. “He’s not a guy who gets excitable in terms of squeezing his stick. He has a smile on his face the whole game. He always wants to go over the boards.”

Because Hertl was injured when the Golden Knights acquired, the excitement over what he can do for the offense has been delayed. The last time he was in the playoffs with the San Jose Sharks, in 2018-19, he had 10 goals and 15 points in 19 games. He’s a two-time 30 goal scorer. Hertl can make the Vegas offense more dangerous.

“Great guy to add to mix,” Cassidy said. ” Pleased with his game and the fact that his health is good too…You never know with an injury how it will play out for you.  So far so good.”