The San Jose Sharks once again started the season on a hot streak. They were proving that last year was a mere fluke and were ready to put a tumultuous season behind them. Through the first quarter of the season, the Sharks were in the thick of the playoff hunt, even fighting for the top spot in the Pacific Division with the Los Angeles Kings. They were flying high under new head coach Peter DeBoer.
Then the Sharks lost six games in a row to start December. Now, the Sharks are on the outside of the playoffs. Obviously it is way too early to stare at the standings, but the point is this team is letting others pass them by. The Sharks should easily make the playoffs in the worst division in the NHL.
Martin Jones has been the reason for the Sharks wins and losses this season. If he plays well, they win. If he doesn’t, they lose. It sounds too easy, but it’s how it works out this season.
Jones’ save percentage dropped significantly every month. Starting in October, it’s gone from .938 to .914 to .888. He went from the best goalie in the league to average netminder to just a borderline starter. His regression cannot continue, or he might find himself as the backup for the rest of the season.
Jones is coming off a game where he allowed five goals on just 25 shots. That kind of performance will end in a loss every single time. Jones is doing nothing to help his team right now.
The Pacific Division is awful. They have one team with over 40 points, while every other division has at least three. The Sharks should be falling out of the race, but they are one point out of a playoff spot thanks to their awful division.
It doesn’t matter how well Joe Thornton is playing, or what Logan Couture brings when he returns, if the Sharks can’t stop shots. They aren’t getting peppered with shots, allowing just 28.5 per game. It is on Jones to stop the Sharks’ skid because he’s the main reason why they’re struggling in the first place. This team can score. They can light the lamp with the best in the NHL. The problem is, the best in the NHL takes advantage of their netminder. If Jones can find a way to play like he did in October, this team becomes a true contender. the Sharks’ playoff hopes may be in the goaltender’s hands.