After amassing 37 victories in the regular season, Martin Jones will get the start between the pipes as the Sharks begin the playoffs Thursday night.
For most of the season, there was no sort of goaltender controversy whatsoever for the San Jose Sharks. Martin Jones was the clear number one after being acquired for a first-round pick over the offseason, and with Alex Stalock struggling mightily, the Sharks leaned heavily upon Jones.
However, when general manager Doug Wilson decided to upgrade the backup position to help lighten the load for Jones by acquiring James Reimer before the trade deadline, it appeared to muddy the waters as Reimer was phenomenal down the stretch.
But with Game One right around the corner, Peter DeBoer is unsurprisingly sticking with his number one netminder, giving Jones the start on Thursday night against his former team in the Los Angeles Kings, according to Kevin Kurz of Comcast Sportsnet.
The 26-year-old Jones was superb in his first full-time season as a starter in San Jose. In 65 starts this year, Jones posted a 37-23-4 record with a 2.27 goals-against average (GAA) and a .918 save percentage.
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The 6-foot-4 Jones provides the Sharks with a steadying presence between the pipes, and he doesn’t seem to be phased by the moment. There have been only a handful of times where Jones has appeared to be flustered this year, and don’t expect that to happen any time soon.
Ever after struggling through the months of November and December, Jones picked up his play during the stretch drive to the playoffs posting a 2.08 GAA and a .922 save percentage after the All-Star break.
He did start all five meetings against the Kings this year and fared pretty well against his former teammates to the tune of a 3-1-1 record with a 2.57 GAA and a .913 save percentage. Obviously, those numbers are below his season totals, and the Sharks will need him to be better in the playoffs.
However, Jones has given his teammates and coach every reason to believe he can lead them to success this postseason and that’s why he should be given the opportunity to start. The important thing to note as well is Reimer provides San Jose with a more than capable backup should Jones falter in any way.
Reimer was tremendous down the stretch in teal with a 6-2 record with a 1.62 GAA and a .938 save percentage. A pretty nice fallback plan for DeBoer should anything happen with Jones.
Heading into this series, many will forecast this matchup as master, with Jonathan Quick, versus the understudy in Jones, but Jones needs to just focus on his game. His unflappable nature should serve him well in the playoffs as the even-keeled Jones doesn’t appear to get too high or too low.
Jones earned this starting nod with his play from the onset of the year, and team teal fans would love to see him get the best of the Kings in round one.