SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl may be an NHL rookie from the Czech Republic, but no one has to tell him about the heated rivalry that exists between his team and the Los Angeles Kings.
In a Dec. 19 game against the Kings at Staples Center, Hertl took a knee-on-knee hit from Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown. Hertl severely damaged two ligaments in his right knee, underwent surgery on Dec. 31 and missed 45 games.
Hertl returned for San Jose's final two regular-season games, and after back-to-back solid performances appears likely to be in the lineup Thursday night at SAP Center for Game 1 against the Kings (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) in a Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round series.
"It's personal," Hertl said after practice Monday. "It's L.A. … For me, it's more motivation because (it's) L.A. I want to beat L.A."