The Sharks made a number of changes this offseason, but none has been more important than the addition of goaltender Martin Jones.
Jones, who recorded his third shutout in 15 games last night, has been one of the most valuable players on the team thus far. His save percentage is now top ten in the league among goaltenders who have started at least 10 games, and his even strength save percentage is seventh in the league among goalies who have played at least 500 minutes.
So how does he rank historically? (It's never too early to start planning the banner raising ceremony).
The following chart shows five on five save percentages from every Sharks starter over the last ten years:
That Antti Niemi guy was pretty great in his first two seasons as a Shark. Jones has gotten off to a better start than anyone else over the last 10 years, save Niemi during the lockout shortened season. Keeping pucks out of the net is the (only) important thing about a goalie, but Jones quiet style is also much more aesthetically pleasing than what we got out of Nemo the past four years. It doesn't hurt to be pretty and good.
Jones' MVP status for the Sharks so far this season may be debatable, but his MVP status in last night's game against the Flyers is beyond a doubt.
He made 34 saves in his third shutout of the season - putting him in a three-way tie for the lead in shutouts - and he made a number of saves that gave the Sharks (who were badly out possessed for the majority of the game) a chance to win.
Jones' biggest save of the night came with two minutes remaining in the third period. Jakub Voracek had a great chance to put one in and probably win the game for the Flyers, but Jones got over in time to make the save on Voracek's first shot and the rebound.
Even later in the game, Jones made a great save on Wayne Simmonds:
The Sharks were nearing the end of their power play, and it seemed like they may have forgotten that Simmonds would be coming out of the penalty box. He grabs the puck and skates down the ice on a one-on-one, but Jones is there to make the timely stop.
So, what does the future hold for Martin Jones as a Shark? We've written about it before, and we have reason to be optimistic so far. For now, that'll do.