Martin Jones shouldn't have started last night in Carolina after starting the night before in Florida. The fact that he did shows that Pete DeBoer has no faith in his backup goaltender, Alex Stalock.
Stalock has started only three of 21 games in the new year, and in his last two starts, he allowed a total of eight goals on 39 shots—a .795 save percentage. That performance dropped his SV% on the season to .884—dead last among the 65 goalies who've started 10 or more games in the NHL this season. Only six goaltenders with 10 or more games have a higher goals against average.
But we already know Stalock's been unreliable this season. What's become clear is that DeBoer absolutely knows it, too, and that he's going to lean heavily on Jones as long as he doesn't have a viable alternative. The danger of this decision is that, as the Sharks look poised to return to the playoffs, Jones could be worn out before they even get there.
It's been a bit of a bumpy ride for Jones in his first season as an NHL starter. His .917 SV% is only a hair better than the .916 NHL average, but after struggling in December with an .889 SV%, he rebounded with a .923 in January. And even after allowing four goals to the Hurricanes last night, he's compiled an almost identical .924 SV% through the first three weeks of February.
So Jones' performance is trending in the right direction, but he's racking up a ton of minutes along the way. His 48 games played—already more than three times the 15 games he played last season—are tied for second in the league with Henrik Lundqvist and Cory Schneider, trailing only Corey Crawford—all veterans well acclimated to the rigors of a full NHL season and more. And while Jones has had a few short outings this season, his 2769:02 time on ice is good for fifth in the league behind Schneider, Lundqvist, Crawford, and Pekka Rinne.
For a team relying on a 26-year-old first year starter, that workload could spell trouble when it counts. The trade deadline is nine days away. If Doug Wilson isn't going to trade for a backup goaltender before then, it's time to give Aaron Dell or Troy Grosenick some starts at the NHL level so Jones can stay fresh for the playoffs.