What's Wrong with Sharks' Netminder Martin Jones?
By Patrick Hoffman
Coming into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Sharks were one of the league's top teams and were considered a strong Cup contender.
They finished the season with the league's sixth best record, finished third in the league in goals scored, were sixth in the league on the power play, and were a tough team to contain. The team could outscore anyone and overwhelm their opponents with their elite-level offense.
With that said, there was one area of the game that was looked at as a potential playoff buster for the Sharks and that was their goaltending. The Sharks were 21st in the league in goals allowed and while their defense certainly did not help much, it was the team's netminding, in particular that of starter Martin Jones, that was somewhat of an issue in the regular season.
Going into the season, there was not much reason to doubt Jones. Jones, 29, had been stellar in his first three seasons with the club so there no reason to expect otherwise.
Unfortunately for Jones, he did not have the kind of regular season that we usually see from him. He finished the year at 36-19-5 with a 2.94 goals-against average, a .896 save percentage, and three shutouts.
Yes, the win total was good, but a lot of those wins came because of his team's offense. Sure, there were also games where he showed glimpses of how good he is, but we did not see that Jones for a lot of the season.
Fast forward to now in the playoffs and his play has once again been inconsistent. Simply put, you cannot have inconsistent goaltending at this time of the year or it is going to hurt you in a big way.
As of this writing (April 14) his team is tied with the Vegas Golden Knights at one game apiece in the first round of the postseason. Yes, the Sharks are very much in this series, but it certainly has not been due to the play of Jones.
Jones is currently (April 14) 1-0 with a with a 4.55 goals-against average and a .848 save percentage. He was pulled in his team's 5-3 loss in Game 2 when he allowed three goals on seven shots.
He just has not looked like himself between the pipes, He's already allowed a few soft goals in this postseason after allowing a lot in the regular season and he also seems to be fighting the puck.
Former NHL masked man Martin Biron pointed out that Jones should have stopped both the second and third goals he allowed in the game. To prove his point, Biron took to Twitter to show why Jones allowed those two soft goals:
If the Sharks want to win this series, they are going to need the Jones of old between the pipes. The Jones that had been one of the league's most consistent netminders from the 2015-16 season through last year.
They need Jones to play the way he has played in his previous postseasons. As of this writing (April 14) Jones has solid numbers in the spring as he is 23-18 with a 2.13 goals-against average, a .924 save percentage, and six shutouts.
Basically put, this team needs Jones to be at the top of his game because if he is not going to get it done between the pipes, the Sharks will be on the golf course sooner rather than later.
He has previously covered the league for WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.