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Martin Jones showing signs of improvement despite struggles

Jones has played a little better of late, but still not well.

San Jose Sharks v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Martin Jones, through 15 games this season, sits very close to the bottom of the NHL leaderboard in 5v5 save percentage. His .906 mark is better than only three goalies with at least 500 minutes played: Steve Mason, Semyon Varlamov and Brian Elliott.

For the sake of comparison, through his first 15 games last year Jones held a .930 5v5 save percentage. Those numbers, I understand, aren’t comparable for a whole slew of reasons including different opponents and the randomness that occurs in a sample size as small as 15 games.

Jones went through an extended slump around December last season and it’s certainly possible that’s the explanation for this skid as well. Here’s how his five-game rolling average looks:

Each point measures Jones’ performance in his previous five games.

That chart doesn’t look so bad, Jones is even showing signs of improvement, until you notice the numbers on the far left of the graphic. Yes, Jones has played better as of late — but his 5v5 save percentage in the last five games is under .900. That’s not going to cut it.

Here’s a look at all the goalies in the NHL with at least 500 minutes played this season and their 5v5 save percentages. You’ll need to look to the right to find Jones.

The median save percentage, held by John Gibson, is .922 — a full .016 points more than Jones’. If Jones posted the same percentage and faced the same number of shots he has faced this season, he’d have stopped an extra ... two goals. Which is why this isn’t much of an issue as of yet.

San Jose has suppressed shots at a spectacular rate this year, meaning Jones has faced far fewer shots than most of his counterparts. As such, while his save percentage is quite close to the bottom of the league, his 5v5 goals against average (1.78) barely sits below the median (1.68).

Factoring in the eye test, I can’t say Jones has looked demonstrably worse than he did last season. Yes, some of the blind spots that burned him as a first-year starter have reared their ugly heads this year, but it feels (note, this is not science) like many of the goals allowed by Jones can be blamed on defensive lapses.

All this is moot, of course, because even if Jones truly slumped this season the Sharks have little to no recourse. Yes, Aaron Dell has played well in two games but Jones is the guy for San Jose and the team will go as far as he’s able to take them. So to make a long story short: boy it would be nice to see some better performances from Jones, but it’s too early to worry; and besides, worrying is overrated. It just means you have to suffer twice.