The San Jose Sharks have seen the best and worst or Martin Jones over the last couple of seasons, but he ultimately remains frustratingly inconsistent.
Jones has followed up what was an incredibly disappointing 2018-19 season with an arguably worse 2019-20 campaign. All the while, he’s shouldered the brunt of the criticism.
But in between his streaks of awful play, in between his four-or-more-goals-allowed outings, Jones finds a way to infuriate fans beyond belief with spectacular starts that show glimpses of the goalie he can be when he’s on.
That has been Jones’ calling card throughout his NHL career and it’s really become a notable characteristic over the past two seasons.
Jones started 62 games last season and despite finishing with a 36-19-5 record, he recorded career-lows in save percentage (.896) and goals-against-average (2.94).
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It was the worst season of his NHL career, but despite some downright awful play from their goaltender, the Sharks managed to make it the Conference Finals before eventually losing to the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.
But they would have never gotten to that point without the help of their goalie who had simultaneously held them back at points throughout the season.
Jones played perhaps the greatest game of his career in Game 6 of the Vegas Golden Knights series keeping the Sharks’ playoff hopes alive. San Jose would go on to win an instant classic in double-overtime defeating the Knights by a final score of 2-1.
Jones made 58 saves that night and only let one past him. That was peak Martin Jones.
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And that right there is what makes Jones so frustrating. This season has been more of the same as through 36 starts, the 30-year-old has a save percentage of just .897 and a goals-against-average of 2.99
The Sharks even opted to bench Jones in favor of Aaron Dell for a good chunk of the season. Only recently has Jones seemingly regained his starting job. But despite this atrocious season — both for Jones and the Sharks — he’s still managed to hit his stride once again.
Jones held the high-powered Pittsburgh Penguins offense scoreless on Saturday night as the Sharks cruised to a surprising 5-0 victory behind Jones’ 30-save night. It was his second consecutive victory — the first time that had happened since the end of November.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Martin Jones is playing well again.
Over the month of February, Jones finished with a stellar .951 save percentage and 1.40 goals-against-average in five starts. It’s a small sample size, yes, but that’s the type of great play Sharks fans don’t see enough of.
The frustrating thing about Jones is that we know he could be great. He knows that he could be great. But until he can become a more consistent goalie, he will remain a liability for the team.
San Jose will likely be stuck with his contract for the foreseeable future meaning that there’s no sense in having him rot away on the bench over these final few weeks.
Let him sink or swim and maybe, just maybe, he could extend this stretch of solid play through the remainder of the season.