Let’s start with a quick statement of the obvious: the Sharks did not lose on Saturday night because of Martin Jones. San Jose’s three game losing streak does not lay at the feet of its goaltender. And now for the but:
But the Sharks need more from Jones to compete this season, even in a weak Pacific division. Through 11 games Jones has posted a .900 save percentage and entering Saturday’s game against the Penguins he held an even strength save percentage of .9045. That’s just not going to be good enough.
Jones made four saves on seven shots on Saturday night and Aaron Dell didn’t inspire much confidence in relief as he allowed two goals on 18 shots. Perhaps Saturday’s game is one best forgotten — it’s certainly not enough reason to make wholesale evaluations on the Sharks’ goaltending — but it does fit into the larger picture.
You can see Jones near the upper left portion of the graphic. That’s not great. Well, let me rephrase. Jones has been above average while the Sharks kill penalties but has been wildly below average while stopping pucks at even strength.
So what conclusions can we draw from an 11 game sample size before Christmas? Well, none. Jones’ larger body of work can give us confidence that he’ll rebound — and quite frankly, it wouldn’t be entirely fair to lay the blame for all these goals at his feet either.
The Sharks have allowed a very small number of shots this year (third fewest in the NHL at 5v5). That’s a good thing! That also means when Jones lets in a few goals his save percentage gets a lot uglier a lot quicker. While San Jose has not allowed many shots, the squad is 19th in scoring chances against per 60 minutes, which may also offer some explanation.
Pairing a stretch of bad goaltending with a stretch of poor shooting will give you a nice losing streak. The Sharks could really go for some good luck on their upcoming six-game road trip; barring that, cleaning up things in front of their own net would go a long way into making some of their own.
Hell, they wouldn’t complain about Jones finding his form and stealing a game or two, either.