Devin Setoguchi makes his triumphant return to the Tank tonight as the Sharks host the Jets. And by that I mean he returns to face the team that drafted him while playing his off-wing on the third line of a last-place club but, hey, there aren't many other points of entry when it comes to this non-rivalry. This game will mark Jets 2.0's first visit to the Bay Area in their three-year history and should feature plenty of terrible West Side Story puns, a couple of bad goals let in by Ondrej Pavelec and, perhaps most intriguingly, improved play from the remainder of the Jets roster.
Since firing Claude Noel and replacing him behind the bench with Paul Maurice, the Jets are 4-0 and have controlled an impressive 57.9% of unblocked even-strength shot attempts with the score close. They also became the first team all season to beat the Ducks in regulation on Honda Center ice just two days ago, so these aren't your father's Winnipeg Jets. Mostly because your father's Winnipeg Jets play in Glendale now. It's all very confusing.
Anyway, the Sharks are riding a four-game winning streak of their own thanks primarily to Joe Pavelski, who has six goals over that stretch, including five in his last two games, and has more goals on the season than anyone else in the league save Alexander Ovechkin. Pavelski won't shoot 19.1% forever, and I still think it's in the team's best interest to move him back to the third line once the forward corps gets a touch healthier, but this has been a hell of a run for the versatile forward.
I think notching their fifth consecutive win will be more difficult for the Sharks than many are expecting, mainly because Dustin Byfuglien's Burns-like conversion to forward gives Winnipeg a very formidable top nine, including a third line that should be able to lay waste to their opposing numbers on San Jose. Another big game from Tyler Kennedy and Andrew Desjardins, like the one those two provided against the Flames, will be essential to keeping the likes of Setoguchi and Byfuglien in check.
|23-23-5, 51 points
||32-12-6, 76 points|
|7th in Central
||2nd in Pacific
Projected Sharks Lineup
Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns
Matt Nieto - Patrick Marleau - Tommy Wingels
Bracken Kearns - Andrew Desjardins - Tyler Kennedy
James Sheppard - John McCarthy - Eriah Hayes
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Jason Demers
Brad Stuart - Justin Braun
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Projected Jets Lineup
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Michael Frolik
Evander Kane - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler
Devin Setoguchi - Olli Jokinen - Dustin Byfuglien
Anthony Peluso - Eric O'Dell - Chris Thorburn
Tobias Enstrom - Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba
Adam Pardy - Keaton Ellerby