SAN JOSE — Tomas Hertl is the toast of the town.
In a state of California bubbling with baseball fever — the Los Angeles Dodgers are in the National League Championship Series and the Oakland A’s were hoping to get to the American League title series with a victory over the Detroit Tigers Thursday — Hertl’s four goal performance on Tuesday was still on the tip of tongues everywhere.
It helped that his fourth goal was a piece of raw skill, a between the legs flip shot on a breakaway that caught the roof of the net over the shoulder of stunned New York Rangers goaltender Martin Biron. Heading into Thursday, it had already received 300,000 views on YouTube.
“This is dream,” Hertl, a Czech native, said in broken English after turning the trick. “No reality.”
Hertl, selected 17th overall in the 2012 draft, already has already picked up his share of nicknames here — “The Big Hertl” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Hertl” — after opening the season with six goals in his three NHL games, the first player to ever accomplish the feat.
The Senators will get their first look at him on Saturday. Perhaps by then, the controversy surrounding the between the legs goal will have died down somewhat.
Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates suggests Hertl “disrespected the league” and that in an earlier era of the NHL, he would have been slashed or punched in the head for attempting such a move.
SPEZZA SKATES AGAIN
Following Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings, Senators coach Paul MacLean opted to keep most of his players on dry land Thursday. They had an off-ice workout and a group of players opted to check out Google headquarters in nearby Silicon Valley.
However, Jason Spezza, Jared Cowen, Eric Gryba and Robin Lehner did skate.
Spezza, who missed Wednesday’s game to nurse his injured groin, is hoping to be ready for Saturday’s game against San Jose and Sunday’s clash against the Anaheim Ducks.
NEIL WEARING UGLY SHINER
Chris Neil can be sometimes criticized for taking too many penalties, but he does talk a good game and he enjoys wearing the scars of the game. Asked about the errant puck that caught him in the face Wednesday, he spelled it out in fairly graphic terms.
“Whenever you get hit in the nose, you can’t see out of either eye, your eyes are watering, you’ve got sweat and blood in it, so it’s one of those things that you just try to get off and get it cleaned up as quick as possible.”
Neil wasn’t sure if his nose was broken or not, but he says he didn’t think about returning to the game with a visor on. “I never really even thought about it. I threw my jersey to our massage guy Shawn (Markwick) and I said ‘get the blood out of it and get me back out there.’”