San Jose Sharks vs. Minnesota Wild: Havlat and Burns to Take on Former Team

Michael DeSantisSenior Analyst INovember 8, 2011

SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 22:  Antti Miettinen #20 of the Minnesota Wild and Joe Pavelski #8 of the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion on January 22, 2011 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After a slow start to the season, the San Jose Sharks are back to their winning ways. Starting the season 1-3-0, the Sharks are now 8-4-1, meaning they have gone 7-1-1 in their last nine games. Wow.

The Minnesota Wild are off to a hot start as well, going 7-3-3 so far this season. They've won three in a row, so both teams are really hot right now, and they'll meet at the Shark Tank Thursday night.

Here's the big story.

You could say it's the Sharks vs. the Wild, but it will also be Martin Havlat and Brent Burns against Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi.

In two separate deals over the summer, the Sharks acquired two-way defenseman Burns for Devin Setoguchi and speedy sniper Martin Havlat for Dany Heatley. You can imagine all four players will be pumped to be playing against their former teams.

So far, Burns and Havlat have totaled four goals and nine assists for the Sharks, while Heatley and Setoguchi have totaled eight goals and eight assists for the Wild. Pretty even production considering Burns is a defenseman, and Havlat missed four games due to injury.

The Sharks are coming off a strong 4-2 win last night against the rival Los Angeles Kings, where most of their big players scored goals. In order, it was Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle and Logan Couture.

People say a team's best players need to be their best players, and those four stepped it up last night, where Marleau, Thornton and Joe Pavelski totaled seven points.

The Wild are coming off a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues.

The Sharks player to watch, aside from Burns and Havlat, is Joe Pavelski. "Pavs" has been a pleasant surprise for the Sharks this season, scoring nine goals and eight assists so far. He's always been a good player, but this seems to be his breakout year.

And besides Heatley and Setoguchi, the Wild player to watch is Matt Cullen. He's also had a terrific start to the year, leading the team in goals with six so far.

My prediction is that the Sharks will win Thursday by a score of 5-3. Look for some goals from some of the players playing against their former team, as I'm sure they'll be fired up.

I think that two out of four of them will put up a tally Thursday night. Either way, it should be a great game.