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Quick Thoughts: Jones on Firing Line? Sharks Giving Up Goals Like Grapes in 6-2 Loss

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Credit: NBCS Bay Area

Look, the San Jose Sharks have not defended well in front of Martin Jones for two years and running.

Per SPORTLOGiQ, before tonight’s disheartening 6-2 loss to last-place Los Angeles, the Sharks were 23rd or worse in the NHL in eight of the 10 given Scoring Chances Against micro-stats. Four key even strength defense weaknesses stand out:

  • San Jose is 27th in Shots on Net from Slot Against (14.3 Per 60 – for additional context, Dallas is tops at 8.99)
  • They’re 31st in Shot Attempts from Slot Off the Cycle Against (10.2 Per 60 – Pittsburgh is tops at 4.08)
  • They’re 27th in Shot Attempts from Slot Off the Rush Against (7.07 Per 60 – Dallas is tops at 3.91)
  • They’re 29th in Odd-Man Rushes Against (5.84 Per 60 – the New York Islanders are tops at 2.32)

The numbers weren’t much better last year.

Essentially, the Sharks have surrendered a lot of shots – be it off the cycle or the rush – from the ever-dangerous slot area. They’ve done Jones no favors.

But there’s also a point when you need a stop, and Jones, like a broken record, keeps skipping there.

Tonight was a good example: Through 20 minutes, San Jose held an 11-2 Scoring Chances edge at 5-on-5, per Natural Stat Trick. Granted, there wasn’t a lot of high-danger activity – both the Sharks and the Kings had two apiece in that category – but for all intents and purposes, it was a quality San Jose period.

The Sharks found themselves down 3-1.

“Their guy made some saves; our guy didn’t,” Bob Boughner said of Jones versus Calvin Petersen. “Now you’re down 3-0.”

Boughner went on: “That’s not up to our standard, that goaltending.

“We’ve given him a chance here to grab the net, especially with [Devan Dubnyk] being hurt. We’re not expecting him to win hockey games for us and stand on his head. But we gotta have solid goaltending, especially at the beginning of games.

“It’s not up to our standard; I’m sure it’s not up to his own.”

Jones, powered by an immaculate shootout record, has managed to sport a 5-3-0 record despite the league’s third-worst Save %. That .865 Save % would make Glen Hanlon blush.

If Save % isn’t your thing, per Evolving Hockey, Jones has a bottom-10 Goals Saved Above Expected.

Problem is, he might be the San Jose Sharks’ best option in net right now. San Jose announced today that Dubnyk, who boasts a .917 Save % behind the same shaky defense, was out with a day-to-day lower-body injury. Boughner added that Dubnyk is unlikely to be ready before Feb. 18 at St. Louis.

Behind Jones then are Alexei Melnichuk – who made his NHL debut after Jones was pulled in the final frame – and Josef Korenar. These are two young goalies with virtually zero NHL experience. The Sharks have high hopes for Melnichuk, but frankly, league-wide, neither are considered blue-chip prospects. It’s hard to see either starting a contest for San Jose soon, unless disaster strikes, be it more struggles for Jones or a long-term injury to Dubnyk. For what it’s worth, the Sharks’ next back-to-back is Mar. 5 and 6 against the Golden Knights.

“I was thinking of putting him in after the third goal. In retrospect, maybe I should’ve,” Boughner said of Melnichuk. “I went in between periods and I challenged Jonesy to be better. I thought he answered the bell a little bit in the second period.”

Best case scenario, Dubnyk is ready by Feb. 18, that gives Jones two games to re-enter San Jose’s starting conversation. Otherwise, a job that Jones had held for six seasons could become Dubnyk’s to lose.

How will the embattled netminder respond?

In a similarly dire circumstance, down 3-1 to Vegas in the 2019 playoffs, Jones authored perhaps the greatest (and most unexpected) goaltending performance in San Jose Sharks history, stopping 58 of 59 shots in Game Six to even up the series.

But it’s also a reminder that Jones has been on the firing line for three consecutive years: Since 2018-19, Jones is tied for the worst Save % in the league with…wait for it…his former mentor, Jonathan Quick, at .894.

I’ll say, between Peter DeBoer and Boughner the last three seasons, tonight was the most exasperated that a San Jose Sharks head coach has sounded about Jones.

What that means for the long-term future of Jones, signed until 2024, it’s hard to say. But Jones should get at least a final say this Saturday against, naturally, the Golden Knights.

Giving Up Goals Like Grapes

I wrote about this a few days ago and the trend continued tonight: The San Jose Sharks keep giving up goals in bunches.

Tonight, Los Angeles scored three goals in 9:55 in the opening frame, three goals in 2:05 in the final stanza.

“We just got to take it shift by shift. Just learn from it and move on,” Mario Ferraro offered. “I feel like sometimes, our confidence get a little low after a goal comes and we’re playing from a deficit.”

This was the 11th time this season that San Jose has allowed two unanswered goals in under five minutes or three-or-more straight goals in under 10 minutes. This is in just 11 games and not counting any empty netters:

  • 2 goals against in 3:26 @ Arizona on Jan. 14
  • 2 goals against in 2:10, 2 goals against in 3:43 @ Arizona on Jan. 16
  • 2 goals against in 1:33, 2 goals against in 4:43 @ St. Louis on Jan. 18
  • 5 goals against in 9:33, 2 goals against in 1:31 @ Colorado on Jan. 26
  • 3 goals against in 8:59 @ Colorado on Jan. 28
  • 3 goals against in 8:19 @ Anaheim on Feb. 5
  • 3 goals against in 9:55, 3 goals against in 2:05 @ Los Angeles on Feb. 11

On the other, the Sharks have done this just four times to their opponents this year:

  • 2 goals for in 4:08 @ Arizona on Jan. 14
  • 2 goals for in 2:40 @ St. Louis on Jan. 18
  • 3 goals for in 9:24 @ Minnesota on Jan. 24
  • 3 goals for in 7:25 @ Anaheim on Feb. 5

28-16

On the bright side, the 5-6-1 San Jose Sharks haven’t played a home game yet. They have 28 home games remaining on the schedule, just 16 on the road.

Reminder though: They were just 17-17-2 at SAP Center last season. A .500 record at home isn’t going to cut it if the Sharks want to qualify for the post-season.

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Icehawk2006

It’s really tough to watch this team. The seem to lack identity and there seems to be so much confusion as to how to play the system. I want to chalk it up to hesitancy. They are hesitant to play without thinking because they always have to be on guard. If they don’t play perfectly, it’s going in the back of their net. I know the system is bad, but it’s just the team can’t even catch onto it 100%, so I’m trying to understand, and I can’t think of much else.

Joe

Jones is done period. Bite the bullet and dump him. EK65 nice turnover. Had a decent game, not enough for a player of his stature and tax bracket. LaBanc, average at best. Meier is nothing more than above average. Kane, Ferraro and Couture are the only ones playing with fire. Too many underachievers at this point. The rookie Dman is a bright spot. Fact, this is a bad team with no identity or consistency. DW has to live with making one of the worst trades in history in the Karlsson deal. My patience with him is running thin. That turnover… Read more »

Alicia

Some random thoughts: The system does not seem to be working. Definitely can’t blame all our woes on that, but I do think that it is a big factor. I’m not sure anything can be done about it at this point. It’s nice to see Hertl get some goals. He needed to break his scoreless streak. In the Jones conversation, Playoff Jones is worth what we are paying him. Regular season Jones is not. The caveat is, Jonesy really doesn’t get much help on a consistent basis. Bougie said he doesn’t need Jones to stand on his head, yet that… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Alicia
Mike

If you track the Sharks possession metrics over the course of Jones’s career, their best season both on offense and defense was 2018-2019. That’s also the year we saw Jones drop from being a average/good goalie to one of the worst in the NHL.

It’s also worth pointing out that Jones is currently sub 900 while Dubnyk has a .917, and there’s an argument to be made that the Sharks have played worse in front of Dubnyk than Jones

Gary To

Well that sucked. That turnover from EK65 killed any momentum they had, and they were actually starting to take over the possession and zone time pretty well just before that. For all intend and purposes EK65 had a good game and that was just unfortunate timing. Jones though man, the 4th goal obviously he couldn’t do anything about , but a few of those simply can’t go in, they just can’t. I don’t know how one can defend him. Honestly I want to see what Melinchuk can do now.

Alaskan_ice

Kings were charmed last night. It happens. Our boys were swarming their net but couldn’t get a stick on the puck. Frustrating. Then the Kings turn around and score. They didn’t work hard for their goals. That’s on the team. They have to make it hard for teams to score.

Nick Rockwell

I’m curious about Jones’ goalie coaching in the offseason. Does the team pay for that or does the player? Could this have been a year in which the team offered to pay for top coaching and it hasn’t worked out? I’m just wondering why the team seems to be acknowledging his shortcomings now rather than at any time in the last three years. I realize his contract makes their options slim but it seemed like a hefty contract even after his Finals appearance, which he was admittedly good but not worth ~6 mil a year. Writing has been on the… Read more »

Dr Mess

I can’t for the life of me figure out why the Sharks still put faith in Jones after three long porous years, except there must be some nepotism or something. He is the Jay Cutler of the NHL goaltending, yet apparently we have three more contract years to endure losing close games. Sorry fellow fans.. I share your confusion and frustration!

Zeke

The irony, Jones hasn’t actually cost the Sharks much in the way of points. Maybe the loss to AZ in game 2 of the season was on Jones. But the loss vs COL wasn’t on him and the loss vs LAK last night wasn’t on him. In his other 5 games, the Sharks have collected 10 pts.

So yes, Jones play is a problem. And yet, it hasn’t really cost the team.

[…] after Boughner laid into Jones two weeks ago, what more can he say to […]

JACK VAN Rooy

Sharks problems are much more then goaltending, this team needs to back check thru the neutral zone.

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