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Sharks confident in Jones despite stats suggesting they shouldn't be

Believe goalie will 'get the job done' against Golden Knights, coach DeBoer says

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist

SAN JOSE -- Regarding goalie Martin Jones, one number matters to the San Jose Sharks.

"They should have a stat that says 'belief in your goaltender,'" coach Peter DeBoer said Monday. "I think if they had that stat, Jonesy would be batting a thousand with our group.

"There's not been one mumble or whisper within our group about him or our confidence in him to get the job done. That's the one analytic stat I can give you guys that you guys maybe don't have access to."

 

[RELATED: Fleury vs. Jones | Complete Sharks vs. Golden Knights series coverage]

 

The traditional stats suggest Jones puts the Sharks at a disadvantage against Marc-Andre Fleury and the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference First Round, starting at SAP Center on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS2, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV).

Jones went 2-4 with a 3.13 goals-against average, an .895 save percentage and one shutout against the Golden Knights in the second round last year, then 2-0-0 with a 3.62 GAA and an .893 save percentage against them this season.

He went 36-19-5 with a 2.94 GAA, an .896 save percentage and three shutouts this season. Among the 20 goalies who played more than 46 games, his save percentage ranked last.

Fleury went 4-2 with a 2.14 GAA, a .935 save percentage and two shutouts against the Sharks in the second round last year, then 1-1-0 with a 1.54 GAA, a .950 save percentage and one shutout against them this season.

He went 35-21-5 with a 2.51 GAA, a .913 save percentage and eight shutouts this season.

Asked to name the difference in the series between the Sharks and Golden Knights last year, DeBoer said Fleury jumped out, though the picture was bigger than that.

That doesn't mean he blames Jones, however.

"I don't look at that series and go, 'Martin Jones wasn't good enough,'" DeBoer said. "I point the finger more at our group and some key moments in that series where we just didn't get it done."

Video: VAN@SJS: Jones stones Horvat's power-play chance

The belief in Jones seems like more than lip service.

When Jones had a season left on his previous contract, the Sharks signed him to a six-year extension July 1, 2017, locking him up through 2023-24. They did not add a goalie before the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 25.

Jones went to the Final with the Sharks in 2016, going 14-10 with a 2.16 GAA, a .923 save percentage and three shutouts, and his overall averages in the playoffs compare favorably to Fleury's.

In 42 career playoff games, Jones is 22-18 with a 2.07 GAA, a .926 save percentage and six shutouts. In 135 playoff games, Fleury is 75-58 with a 2.58 GAA, a .911 save percentage and 14 shutouts.

"[Jones] seems to really dial in for big games," San Jose defenseman Justin Braun said. "You're not worried about him this time of year coming up with the saves he needs to make."

DeBoer said he can sense when a team does not believe in its goalie.

"It appears when a questionable goal goes in," DeBoer said. "It's body language. It's the slumping of the shoulders, the energy coming out the next shift, whether it changes your game. And I've had situations where there isn't that belief, and it seeps through your game. It changes things.

"We don't have that here. If a tough one goes in, you never see any of that, you never hear any of that, and that for me is the No. 1 indicator."

Jones shrugged off questions about his playoff history, whether he needs a reset, whether he looks at the postseason as a chance to quiet his critics. He said he didn't look at numbers, for the most part.

Video: LAK@SJS: Jones denies Kovalchuk's quick blast

He said he looks more at video to spot trends and tendencies. When he feels good, he feels ahead of plays, anticipating what's going to happen.

And how does he feel now?

He went 2-6-0 in his last nine games of the regular season, allowing at least three goals eight times. He was pulled after allowing three goals on 11 shots in a 7-3 loss to Vegas at home March 18 but didn't get the decision. He also defeated Vegas 4-3 in overtime at home March 30, allowing three goals on 26 shots.

"I think the last stretch of games, I haven't gotten the results every time," Jones said. "But I feel like I've been playing really well down the stretch in a few of these games here, so I feel good. Ready to rock."

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