Martin Jones is a big reason behind the San Jose Sharks’ success.
Let’s rewind back to Saturday night when Jones earned first star of the game honors after making 27 saves in the Sharks’ 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators at SAP Center.
Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer is confident in Jones’ abilities.
“Jones gave us all the goaltending,” DeBoer said.
The former Manchester Monarchs and Calgary Hitmen goaltender became the Los Angeles Kings’ primary backup to Jonathan Quick after backup Ben Scrivens was traded to the Edmonton Oilers. In 2014, Jones won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Kings.
On June 26, 2015, the soon-to-be restricted free agent Jones was traded to the Boston Bruins, along with defenseman Collin Miller and a first-round draft pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Level Draft in exchange for forward Milan Lucic.
Four days later, the Bruins traded Jones to the Sharks for a first-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and college prospect Sean Kuraly. San Jose signed him to a three-year, $9 million contract.
In his first season as a starting goalie, Jones had 65 games in 2015–16 with the Sharks, finishing with a 2.27 goal-against average, .918 save percentage and the second most shutouts in the regular season with six, next to Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford with seven.
Jones helped the Sharks advance to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history, starting 24 playoff games and recording three shutouts.
Jones went 3-2 in his last five games. The Sharks’ five-game road trip through the Eastern Conference could be described as disastrous. Home-ice advantage seemed to be working in favor of San Jose. With the 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators, they improved to 4-0-0 at SAP Center.
Jones is no longer a mystery to Sharks fans. However, the pressure to meet the expectations has increased after his impressive first season as the team’s No. 1 goalie. Now there are goalies that you should worry about, but there’s no reason to worry about Jones.
First off, Jones’ focus has not changed. Getting some rest is key this season. Remember when Jones declined in the final month of last season and lost six of his final 10 starts? James Reimer shared the workload to allow the starter to rest before the postseason.
I am not saying I believe in Aaron Dell without a doubt, but there will be times when he will have to step in as a backup. There has already been one occurrence. Following a 7-4 loss to the New York Rangers on Oct. 17, Dell made his NHL debut. Dell (1-0) stopped 21 of 23 shots and the Sharks beat the New York Islanders 3-2.
Critics will continue to wonder when Jones will falter, but at the end of the day, DeBoer knows his team better than anyone else does. Jones (5-3) has to continue making saves to keep pucks from flying into the net. Nobody is perfect, but Jones will be fine in San Jose.