In what some may consider highway robbery, the San Jose Sharks acquired James Reimer. Let me say that again for maximum effect: the Sharks acquired James Reimer. This may not seem like a very big deal but the Sharks were able to obtain a suitable number one goaltender for a minimal fee. That isn't anything to scoff at. Although Reimer may be gone after this year, it doesn't hurt to take an in-depth look at his stats and how he compares to Sharks starter Martin Jones. Who should really be getting the starts when it matters most?
As my colleague Jake Sundstrom noted yesterday, James Reimer is having himself quite a year. When looking at goaltenders who have played more than 750 minutes at even strength (roughly around 20+ games played) Reimer places favorably in nearly every category. His even strength save percentage of .9378 places him in between names like Roberto Luongo and Corey Crawford, two players who have been mentioned as Vezina candidates.
This isn't to shortchange Jones who is having a nice year in his own right but his year is more around the league average. A steadying force in a position of turmoil in years past, his even strength save percentage this year is .9243 which places him right behind Ondrej Pavelec. Yikes. Mind you Pavelec has barely played enough games to meet the minutes threshold but from his reputation alone, you almost cringe at the comparison.
When breaking down their stats even further, Reimer becomes even more impressive this year. His high danger save percentage (a spot on the ice where it is common for shooters to shoot higher than 10%) is second in the league only behind Brian Elliott at .8995. On a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs, one would expect for their opponents to get many attempts from the "high danger" area but surprisingly Reimer hasn't faced many shots from that spot this year. Could that possibly be an anomaly in his metrics? Maybe, but it could also be taken as a proficiency in an area where many shots aren't taken anyway.
That brings us back to Jones, who has been as consistent as consistent can be. Looking at his high danger save percentage, you can find his name smack dab in the middle. It isn't a bad number at .8495 but it once again shows the average nature of his play.
It doesn't help that Jones has played way too many games thus far. The addition of Reimer should be a welcome breather for him. It is a testament to his endurance that he has performed the way he has, but it would be for the betterment of the team if more of his starts were split with the newcomer. This doesn't mean that Jones could lose his job with the addition of Reimer, if anything it should enable him to play a more efficient game moving forward.
This is not only an encouraging sign for fans of the Sharks but should be an encouraging sign for the netminders as well. A tandem this strong is built to last and will prove to be a tough out, come playoff time.