The Sharks didn’t play very well against the Stars on Sunday night, at least not overall. Thankfully they didn’t need to. San Jose scored a whopping five times while Aaron Dell stopped 29 shots, again proving to be a very good backup netminder. Maybe he should play more.
Given the compressed schedule (five games in eight days, thanks NHL!), I doubt the coaching staff will spend much time on this game, but that first period was anything but beautiful from a San Jose perspective. And yet, the Sharks went to the first intermission with a 2-1 lead. Hockey is a funny game sometimes.
Team Teal can thank Dell for that, who made 14 saves to keep the game close. San Jose opened the scoring before Dallas tied it up, but from there it was all Sharks on the scoreboard. Dell’s numbers are patently ridiculous this season, and while the sample size is small it’s hard not to marvel at them.
Dell has a .938 save percentage in 856 minutes. At even strength, that save percentage climbs to a league-best .9597 (with a minimum of 500 minutes played). None of this means he should supplant Jones as the starting goalie (and the first person to suggest it gets sent to Siberia) but the World’s Okayest Goalie is starting to put together a run that goes from impressive to impossible.
I see up to six games on the calendar for Dell this season: Buffalo on Tuesday, Dallas on March 20, Dallas on March 24, Calgary on March 31, Vancouver on April 2 and Calgary to close the season April 8. There’s a chance he doesn’t get the Calgary game if the Flames continue to push up the standings and there are, god forbid, Pacific title implications.
If he gets that many games he’ll finish the season with just over 1,000 minutes of strength ice time. That would put him (around) 1,216 minutes overall minutes, compared to the 1,155 minutes the Sharks gave to backup netminders James Reimer and Alex Stalock last year.
It should come as no surprise to you that Dell has the highest save percentage of any goalie in Sharks’ history with at least 500 minutes played. Dell’s under contract with the Sharks next year and it seems like San Jose has its backup goalie situation taken care of. A lot can change in a short period, especially with goalies, but this is a massive improvement after the tumultuous ride the Sharks experienced a year ago.