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Sharks give Game 1 to Jones

Goalie will make first playoff start against Kings, his former team

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Goaltender Martin Jones will make his first Stanley Cup Playoff start when the San Jose Sharks play the Los Angeles Kings, his former team, in Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series at Staples Center on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, CSN-CA, FS-W, CBC, TVA Sports).

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said Tuesday he'll choose his starting goaltender -- Jones or James Reimer -- game by game, but that Jones, as expected, will start Game 1.

"I don't think there's any blueprint for it," DeBoer said. "We're going to do what we've done all year. We're going to take it game to game and we're going to give ourselves the best chance to win games."

Jones, who came to the Sharks from the Boston Bruins in an offseason trade, went 37-23-4 with a 2.27 goals-against average, .918 save percentage and six shutouts. He started all five of San Jose's games against Los Angeles, going 3-1-1 with a 2.57 GAA and .913 save percentage.

Reimer went 6-2-0 with a 1.62 GAA, .938 save percentage and three shutouts after coming to the Sharks from the Toronto Maple Leafs two days before the Feb. 29 NHL Trade Deadline. He started seven playoff games for the Maple Leafs in 2013 (3-4, 2.88, .923).

Although this will be Jones' first playoff start, he does have postseason experience. He made two appearances for the Kings as a rookie in their first-round victory against the Sharks in 2014. Relieving Jonathan Quick in Games 1 and 2, Jones allowed no goals on seven shots over a combined 56:25.

Video: STL@SJS: Jones makes multiple stops to hold deficit

"Any time you get experience like that, you can use that to your advantage, for sure," Jones said. "I think just the speed and the intensity of the games. It's fun to play in those games. That's why you play, is to play in these. I think everyone's just really excited."

Jones was part of a Kings team that survived three seven-game series in winning the Stanley Cup. They defeated the Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks before defeating the New York Rangers in five games in the Final.

"I think your best players have to be your best players," Jones said. "You need great goaltending, special teams. It takes every single guy in the room. That's one thing that is very true. It takes everybody. Certain guys need to step up at different times."

Jones' cool, calm and even-keeled approach on and off the ice appears perfectly suited for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"That attitude that you see, that's what we feel out there," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. "I think that's helped our team, that's helped our defense. It's done a lot of good things."

Pavelski said he has seen Jones get angry now and then, but never on the ice.

"Occasionally, in card games or something like that," Pavelski said, laughing. "He handles that position well. It's not an easy position to play. As calm as he is, at times he makes that desperation save."

Jones, 26, made his Sharks debut against the Kings on Oct. 7 at Staples Center. Instead of stressing about it, Jones stayed cool and enjoyed the moment. He made 19 saves in a 5-1 victory.

"I think I'm a pretty calm guy," Jones said. "It's important. Especially over the course of a long season, kind of maintaining your emotion and not getting too high or too low. You go through a lot of ups and downs throughout the season. I think it's important for guys, especially goaltenders, to maintain that even keel."

DeBoer said he has no concerns about how Jones will handle the Stanley Cup spotlight.

"Nothing gets him really rattled," DeBoer said. "He's the same way around the dressing room as he looks on the ice. He's a real calming influence on people around him, which is a great characteristic to have as a starting goalie."

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