It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for Martin Jones in San Jose.
Bob Boughner and Logan Couture saw it all, and they both reminisced on the eve of Jones’s return to SAP Center as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
At the moment, it’s unknown if Jones will start. He stopped 34 of 36 shots in a win last night over the Seattle Kraken, but starter Carter Hart is in COVID protocol.
When Jones got traded to the San Jose Sharks in the summer of 2015, Couture reached out to old buddy Drew Doughty to get the scoop about the then-Los Angeles Kings back-up.
“Drew raved about him, loved him as a teammate. Positive, brings good energy to a room, just a calming goaltender,” Couture recalled. “Never got too high or too low.”
The seemingly unflappable Jones took the starting reins for the next six seasons, leading the San Jose Sharks to the Stanley Cup Final in his first year in teal.
“Game Five, Stanley Cup Finals. He had 45-plus saves in Pittsburgh there to keep us alive and give us another opportunity to claw our way back in that series. He was unbelievable that entire playoff run,” Couture shared, when asked about his favorite Jones memory. “A few of those games against Pittsburgh, we didn’t have any business being in the game. And Joner was the only reason why. So that game in particular. I can remember all the incredible saves he made that night.”
Martin Jones went 14-10-0 with .923 Save % during the 2016 playoffs.
That auspicious debut was followed by back-to-back strong seasons, which led the Sharks to commit six years and $34.5 million dollars to Jones in July 2017.
At the time, it seemed like a reasonable expenditure: Jones won 102 games and posted a .915 Save % from 2015-18. He was even better when it counted with a sparkling .926 through 40 post-season tilts in that period of time.
“You have to give him credit for his time here, especially early on in his career as a Shark,” Boughner, who was an assistant coach in San Jose in 2016, recounted. “He was a big part of us going so deep in the playoffs.”
However, things went south for Jones in 2018-19, as he registered the first of three consecutive sub-.900 Save % campaigns. From 2018-21, his .896 was tied with Jonathan Quick for worst among all NHL starting goalies.
But through it all, Couture says Jones remained a positive force in the San Jose Sharks locker room.
“Probably wasn’t a lot of fun [for him]. I sat beside him on the plane, spent a lot of time with him,” Couture said. “He was always a great teammate. Even through games where maybe he didn’t play his best, it’s hard to show up with a smile on your face and be positive and be supportive of other players, but Joner, he never let it get to him.”
Boughner echoed his captain: “Jonesy was always such a good guy off the ice and a well-liked guy. There’s a lot of fond memories of him there.”
“He was always a positive person and [that’s] something I really respect about him. Something that I’ve tried to pick up from him. If I’m not playing well, the team’s not playing well, it’s easy for me to get down on myself and the team,” Couture offered. “You can never have too many guys like him.”
And there were still great moments in the back half of Jones’s tenure with the San Jose Sharks, especially a 58-save OT victory in Game Six of the first round of the 2019 postseason against the Vegas Golden Knights. That was a franchise playoff record.
“He always found a way to bounce back, it seemed, even when at times, as goalies do, they struggle,” Boughner said.
In total, Martin Jones’s 32 playoff victories in San Jose trails only Evgeni Nabokov’s 40 in franchise history.
“Jonesy played a lot of hockey for the Sharks and a lot of playoff wins,” Boughner pointed out. “That has to be remembered.”
Jones has seemingly found his footing as Carter Hart’s back-up after the Sharks bought him out this past summer. He’s 6-4-1 with a .911 Save % in orange and black.
“He’s a good goalie. He’s had a lot of success in the NHL. Sometimes, for a year or two, things don’t go your way, you have down years,” Couture said. “For him, probably a fresh start was very [welcome].”
San Jose Sharks (16-14-1)
Boughner said that James Reimer will start and lines should remain the same from Tuesday:
Reimer not here this morning, there's an EBUG. Lines are as we ended last night + Nick Merkley. Balcers as extras. Reimer did appear did end OT shaking something off.
Couture w/ Barabanov, Meier
Hertl w/ Halbgewachs, Gregor
Bonino w/ Nieto, Cogliano
Pederson w/ Gadjovich, Viel
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) December 29, 2021
He did allude to a couple players being banged up, so will forward Nick Merkley or defenseman Nicolas Meloche draw in?
Philadelphia Flyers (13-12-5)
Per NHL.com — this is what the Flyers ran last night:
Joel Farabee — Kevin Hayes – Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom — Claude Giroux — Cam Atkinson
James van Riemsdyk — Morgan Frost — Gerry Mayhew
Max Willman — Patrick Brown — Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov — Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim — Rasmus Ristolainen
Keith Yandle — Kevin Connauton
Where to Watch
Puck drop against Philadelphia is 7:30 PM PT at SAP Center. Watch it live on NBC Sports California and ESPN+. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.
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