Martin Jones received criticism for early struggles in the beginning the 2018-2019 campaign and landing questions of concern at the beginning of the playoffs.
In his fourth year with the San Jose Sharks and sixth in the National Hockey League, Jones’ goals against average and save percentage presented steady regression with a career-low 2.94 GAA and a .896 save percentage.
Sure, the 29-year-old goaltender’s numbers were not the greatest this season, however one stood out on his side – the win column.
Jones started 62 games in a Teal sweater, dawning a 36-19-5 record, which was second among all NHL goaltenders and one win shy of his career-high total he set back in his first year with the Sharks during the 2015-2016 campaign.
Now, you’re probably thinking that Jones’ grade should be lower based on his low accounts of successful statistics. The reason Jones earned a B instead of a C was his astonishing revival in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Entering the postseason, the Sharks were written off in the first round against the Golden Knights, who rode a hot offensive rush and goaltender into the month of April. On top of that, the Sharks carried the worst save percentage in the league from the regular season.
However, Jones flipped the script.
Down to 3-1 in the first-round series, head coach Peter DeBoer did not hesitate to pull the Sharks’ No. 1 netminder out of the fight. Instead, Jones remarkably finished that best-of-seven series, allowing just nine goals in the final four games to send the Sharks to the second round.
Perhaps, his greatest performance of the season was that dramatic double-overtime victory in Game 6 in the hostile environment of T-Mobile Arena. Despite just one goal against, Jones made 58 saves before Tomas Hertl rifled home the short-handed winner to force a Game 7 on home ice.
In that heroic effort, Jones recorded the most saves a Sharks goaltender in a single game in franchise history, giving San Jose a chance to upset Vegas, and they did exactly that thanks to an unbelievable third period and Barclay Goodrow’s series-clinching dagger.
Throughout the year, the leaky goals were the ones he undoubtedly would like to have back, and he gave up quite a few of those, but the 6-foot-4 netminder stood tall most nights, proving he is the undisputed starter for the Sharks.
This year’s exit from the playoffs does not point blame to Jones’ performance in goal, but rather the toll from each lengthy heavy-hitting series that piled throughout the stretch of the postseason.
In a busy off-season for the Sharks, Jones’ mind is set to shake off the concerns and criticisms of the past and regain his composure and steadiness for next season.