Martin Jones started slowly this season and the Sharks suffered as a result. Now, Jones seems to have found his groove. San Jose topped Chicago 2-1 on Wednesday night and Jones played a big role in the result as he made 33 saves and 31 at even strength.
Those early concerns about Jones’ play seem to have been unfounded as he has found his rhythm in the past 10 contests. That's good news for a team whose puck luck extended from its save percentage to its shooting percentage.
Jones’ strong night raised his 5v5 save percentage to .917. That’s not exactly elite, but it’s a massive improvement from where he started the season. At this point, the Sharks will take good news where they can get it.
It will take some time to rehabilitate Jones’ save percentage to what it was a season ago, but the Sharks don't necessarily need a number that impressive. They need Jones to play a league average game in net — particularly given how strong the defense had been this year.
So now that Jones has allowed eight goals in five games, I think we can say he isn't broken. Yes, he struggled to start the season, much like he struggled in December last season. Those slumps may be a part of Jones’ game, but they don't define him.
That's good news for the Sharks. This isn't a team that will rely on Jones to save their bacon night in and night out, but they need him to play a solid game so they can stay afloat. Lately, he has done that.
In all actuality, Jones’ struggles can likely be linked to bad luck. The Sharks played well defensively but allowed some high profile mistakes around the San Jose net that burned Jones time and time again. Add that to a high number of goals that came from inside the right circle and you’ve got a recipe for a very bad save percentage.
Early in the season I wrote about Jones’ struggles and wrote the Sharks needed more from their netminder. Now it seems they're getting that. The Sharks are a team designed to survive on strong play from their skaters — so they need a netminder to hang around long enough to make that work.
So far so good. Jones has found his groove and the Sharks are all the better for it. Let’s make it three wins in a row on Friday.