Martin Jones holds a .901 even strength save percentage through nine games, a far cry from his hot start to his Sharks career a season ago. It’s not time to worry given his body of work, but it got me thinking: now that we have a decent sample to work with, where do other teams find the most success against Jones?
Thankfully the wonderful folks at datarink.com and corsica.hockey have some wonderful visual data for us to take a peek at. Let’s start by looking at Jones’ goal-density map. This shows where on the ice most of his goals against come from. No surprise that he, like most goalies, give up the most goals right in front of the net.
If you get in a little closer, you can see the outskirts of his goals against — those are often of the “probably wants that back” variety. You can see he gives up a fair amount of his goals right in the slot, sometimes even a little further towards the opponent’s net, and that little bubble to the top is a familiar one if you watch enough Sharks games.
Of course by itself this is just kind of an interesting image. So let’s take a look at how it compares to some other goalies in the NHL over the same time period. I’ve included charts from four Canadian goalies that share some similarities with Jones and are of varying skill level.
Quick is the obvious comparison here because of the time the two spent together in Los Angeles. One major similarity? That little bubble up to the top of the chart. It’s smaller than Jones’, but it’s absolutely there which I find a little interesting. Let’s press on.
Crawford oscillates between overrated and underrated so quickly that I can never put my finger on where he stands in the NHL hierarchy. Sufficed to say he’s perfectly fine and as you can see here his big weakness comes down to his right hand side as there’s a pretty substantial tail in that area.
So I guess we know which side of the ice to shoot on against Carey Price. I should note that there are other factors at play here given that the sample size is only a season and change. Perhaps Price faces more dangerous shots from his left because better defenders patrol the other side; or maybe he sees more skilled right wingers than left. Just food for thought.
When the Sharks first traded for Jones, he picked up comparisons to another ex-Kings goalie: Jonathan Bernier. Thankfully Jones’ tenure in San Jose has gone much better than Bernier’s tenure with both the Maple Leafs and now the Ducks. That context I mentioned earlier applies here, too: playing goalie for the Leafs sucks.
All this to say that Jones keeps things pretty tight from a goaltending perspective. Most of the goals scored on him come from in tight and are often the fault of poor defense rather than undisciplined goaltending. His biggest flaw, in my opinion, is his proclivity to leave the short side post unsealed at times and I think that shows in his chart.
Jones’ style fits well with the Sharks, something we don’t talk about much when evaluating goaltenders. San Jose (generally) knows where to be in order to best protect their netminder. He isn’t going to make too many impossible saves when he’s caught out by bad defense, but the Sharks don’t need to worry about him venturing too far from his crease to make dangerous plays on the puck either.
A safe bet is what this team needs — and despite his early season struggles, Jones is certainly that.