Something became very clear last night, right around the time a 19-year-old Czech rookie was going between his legs for his fourth goal of the game: It's Tomas Hertl's world, and we're all living in it.
We start with the fourth goal, because aside from the setting and the context and the magical night for a kid with his mother in the stands, it's a legit goal of the year candidate. With a blowout of the Rangers already sealed up, Hertl found himself alone in on Marty Biron, and dropped a pass to himself back between his legs before beating Biron on the forehand.
"I'm not even sure if he realizes where he is," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He's innocent out there."
All four of his tallies on the night:
Hertl became the first Shark to score four goals since Owen Nolan in 1995. He's the youngest NHL player with four goals since Jimmy Carson did it in 1988. He's got six in his first three NHL games. Watch the video at top for shots of Hertl's mother in the crowd, crying with happiness.
She's wearing a Patrick Marleau jersey*, because they don't make Tomas Hertl jerseys. That'll change soon.
If you aren't yet aboard the Hertlwagon, you need to watch his adorable postgame interview. The Prague-born teenager was taken by the Sharks No. 17 overall in 2012, and spent last season in the Czech Extraliga, so he hasn't spent much time in
Southern California. His English isn't so great. But his exuberance and the fact that he looks about 12 years old more than makes up for it.
"This is dream, no reality."
The Sharks' 9-2 win is almost an afterthought, but San Jose is already looking mighty scary in this young season. Through three games, they've outscored opponents 17-4 and outshot them 133-65.
Oh, and Hertl got to keep the hats:
*Apparently it was a Hertl sweater, with '12 being his draft year.