Winning Play: Jones reaches .900
After a 3-0 shutout of the Minnesota Wild, Martin Jones’s save percentage reached (exactly) .900 for the first time since Jan. 15.
Scoring has been up league-wide this season, but this is still an exceedingly low save percentage, .005 lower than the NHL average of .905. For comparison, league-average save percentage last season was .908.
Regardless, the San Jose Sharks are relying on Jones to guide them to their first Stanley Cup.
There’s a good reason for it.
Jones’s career playoff save percentage is .926, .013 higher than his regular season .913. The only other active goaltender (25+ playoff games) who has elevated his performance so dramatically in the post-season is Craig Anderson; Anderson’s .929 career playoff save percentage is .015 higher than his .914 regular season save percentage.
It’s not uncommon for a netminder to spin a middling regular season into firmer play and a silver chalice. Braden Holtby did it last year, elevating his .907 regular season save percentage to .922 in the playoffs; Cam Ward did it in 2005-06, with an .882 regular season save percentage climbing to .920 in the playoffs; Nikolai Khabibulin did it in 2003-04, recording a .910 regular season save percentage and a .933 in the playoffs. The list goes on.
But not many goalies have a regular season save percentage .005 or more below the NHL average in their Stanley Cup-winning year. Jones would be just the third since 1967-68: Ward’s .882 was -.017 below 2005-06’s league average of .899; Rogie Vachon’s .902 was -.005 below 1968-69’s NHL average of .907.
Jones could also become just the sixth Stanley Cup-winning goalie since the beginning of the expansion era to have a regular season save percentage lower than the league average.
In other words, the odds aren’t in San Jose’s favor.
But of course, the number that Pete DeBoer and company profess to care most about is wins. Last night, Jones also tied Marc-Andre Fleury for the league lead with 34 victories.
Add 16 more in the spring and Jones will never have to hear about this year’s save percentage ever again.