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Sharks vs. Devils preview: Havlat returns to the Tank

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Czech winger makes his first appearance in San Jose since offseason buyout.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Don't expect the kind of teary-eyed tribute Dan Boyle got when his Rangers visited the Tank last Saturday, but ex-Shark Marty Havlat will make his first return trip to the Bay Area since being bought out of the final year of his contract by the team in June. And if it wasn't already clear by the end of last season that it was time for the Sharks to move on from the oft-injured Czech winger, Havlat's performance so far in New Jersey unfortunately underscores the point. Havlat has just 11 points in 28 games this season (only 5 at even-strength, despite averaging nearly 13 minutes a night in that game state) along with some of the worst possession numbers on one of the league's worst possession teams.

But Havlat's far from the only former Shark on the Devils roster who ended his tenure in teal rather unceremoniously. Scott Gomez, briefly a San Jose center during the lockout-shortened season, is back in New Jersey and faring a whole lot better than Havlat, with seven points in his last seven games. He'll be centering another former Shark tonight in Steve Bernier. Ryane Clowe continues to be on the shelf with concussion issues so he won't be playing. So given that Havlat was still the highest profile player among the three ex-Sharks in tonight's Devils lineup, here's a reprise of our very own Nathan's, tribute video to the departed winger that we sincerely hope will be shown on the SAP Center jumbotron tonight:

Tale Of The Tape
New Jersey Devils

@

San Jose Sharks
16-22-8, 40 points
Record 24-16-6, 54 points
7th in Metropolitan Rank 2nd in Pacific
46.8%
Score-Adj. Fenwick 50.5%
100.3
PDO 98.6
20.6
PP% 21.1
79.0
PK% 81.9

7:30PM PST | SAP Center | San Jose, California
TV: CSNCA-HD | Radio: SJSharks.com, 98.5 KFOX
Know Your Enemy: In Lou We Trust

Projected Sharks Lineup

Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Melker Karlsson
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels
Matt Nieto - Tomas Hertl - Tyler Kennedy
Tye McGinn - Andrew Desjardins - James Sheppard

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon - Justin Braun
Matt Irwin - Scott Hannan

Alex Stalock
Antti Niemi

Projected Devils Lineup

Patrik Elias - Travis Zajac - Marty Havlat
Mike Cammalleri - Dainius Zubrus - Michael Ryder
Adam Henrique - Scott Gomez - Steve Bernier
Joe Whitney - Tim Sestito - Jordin Tootoo

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
Jon Merrill - Marek Zidlicky
Mark Fraser - Peter Harrold

Cory Schneider
Keith Kinkaid

Last Meeting

Joe Thornton scored into an empty net with 1:14 remaining to seal a Sharks victory and notch his 1200th career NHL point in the Sharks' fifth game, and fourth win, of the 2014-15 regular season.

Storylines
  • Alex Stalock is expected to get a rare start in net that doesn't come on either leg of a back-to-back.
  • Matt Nieto will replace Tye McGinn and what is now definitively the Sharks' third line, featuring Tomas Hertl at center and Tyler Kennedy on right wing. Nieto, Hertl and Kennedy are three of the Sharks' top four forwards in Corsi For percentage.