Ask the Editors: What do we think of Martin Jones?
We've seen 14 games from the Sharks new starter. Let's take stock of where we're at.
Last week we asked what it would take to make a Patrick Marleau trade okay. This week, we've got a new set of questions for the Fear the Fin editors @jonathanwold and @jakesundstrom. Have questions you want answered for next week? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: We've seen Martin Jones play 14 games. What are your thoughts? Is he meeting your expectations?
JW: I am very happy with Martin Jones. Not only is he meeting my expectations, he is on the high end of them. His save percentage right now is at .923, but its .932 at even strength. Beyond statistics, everything eye-test makes him even better. He's a very calming influence on the ice because he's always in the right place. I keep saying it, his positioning reminds me of Henrik Lundqvist. He's given up a few bad goals over the past couple weeks, but just a few. For the first ten games or so, it looked like the only possible way to beat him was on deflections or screens. That kind of play will be greatly appreciated down the stretch.
JS: I'm very happy with how Jones has played so far. My hope was that he would provide about league average goaltending and give the Sharks skaters a chance to win games and so far he has absolutely delivered on that. His great streak to start the season was a nice honeymoon, and despite a few not-so-hot games I've still got faith that he's the guy in San Jose. The backup situation, on the other hand...I could feel better about that.
Q: Where does winning in Buffalo rank all-time among Sharks wins for you, personally?
JW: Honestly, I was busy broadcasting a San Jose State-USC hockey game, so I missed it. The Spartans won, by the way, sweeping USC in their season series. Solid wins. As far as the Sharks go, it's about time. That's all I'll say. But no wins come close to "the Jumbo Slide" in the 2011 playoffs against the Kings, or the Thornton-Marleau 2-on-1 against Detroit in the 2010 playoffs, or even the game where Marleau swept the Canucks in the 2013 playoffs. Hey, we should go to the playoffs again. That was fun.
JS: When the schedule came out this season this game caught my eye as a sure loss. A road-back-to-back played in the Sharks most horrifying of horror houses? May as well skate the Barracuda because San Jose was not going to win this game. So, I guess this ranks pretty high. Uhhhh, somewhere above beating Detroit on Friday but below the first time I saw the Sharks win in person (San Jose vs. Nashville during the lockout season).
Q: On a scale of 1-10 how concerned are you with the Sharks power play?
JW: Let's say 6. There's no way a power play with Thornton, Pavelski, Marleau, Burns, and eventually Couture stays last in the league. I think it will regress to average pretty quick. That being said, I'm still not excited about seeing Vlasic on the first unit at the moment. I think his ice time would be better served at even strength or on the penalty kill. One thing to keep in mind is that DeBoer didn't focus a lot of time on the power play during training camp. The team might be a bit rusty and the staff might not know exactly what they have yet. We're only 17 games into the season. Bottom line: it's certainly something to work on in practice now, and some guys should be shuffled around, but it won't stay this bad.
JS: I'm at about a four. The Sharks are 12th in the league in scoring chances for per 60 minutes while on the power play and that's (largely) without Logan Couture. They'll start converting on those chances eventually — and Couture's return, whenever that may be, will certainly provide a boost the Sharks could surely use.
Q: What's your opinion on the Sharks inviting Dainius Zubrus in for a tryout?
JW: I was never really a fan of Zubrus when he was with the Devils. But that was mostly due to his contract. It's not his fault Lou Lamoriello signed him to a six year deal at $3.4mil per year. And last year, he wasn't exactly spectacular with the Devils. He only had 10 points in 74 games, and his Corsi stats weren't great. But he was still getting tough minutes - decently strong competition, but starting very heavily in the defensive zone. He might be worth a flier just to see what he's got left. I wouldn't want him as the permanent fourth line center for the season, but if Tierney keeps struggling and needs to get sent down for a few games, Zubrus could maybe fill that gap for 8 minutes a night. And more importantly, he knows DeBoer's system. Just having him at practice a few days during this tryout might help show the kids what DeBoer is looking for systematically on the ice.
JS: I dig it. Lord knows even at the ripe age of 37, Zubrus has more in the tank than Mike Brown ever started with. Still, it all depends on his usage if/when he's offered a contract. If Peter DeBoer starts playing a fourth line of Brown-Haley-Zubrus I won't be held responsible for my actions.