Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer passionately defended goaltender Martin Jones following San Jose's 5-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night. For the eighth time in his last 14 starts, Jones allowed four goals, but DeBoer tried to take a look at the bigger picture.
"You guys like to grab little pictures of things that work for the story your writing," DeBoer told reporters in Denver after he was asked about Jones' recent struggles.
"It's 14 games. You can go back six games and write whatever story you want. He's having a great year for us. Our goaltending has been excellent all year."
If you look at his save percentage, Jones is not having a great season.
His save percentage in all situations (.9097) is the lowest in his three seasons in teal, and ranks 22nd out of the 34 goalies that have played 1000 minutes in all situations, according to Corsica Hockey. His five-on-five save percentage (.9147) is also the lowest of his teal tenure, and sits 26th out of 30 goalies that have played 1000 five-on-five minutes.
But save percentage doesn't always tell the whole story, as it doesn't take into account shot quality. As we've written previously, Jones has played behind a loose defense this season.
Among those aforementioned 30 goalies, Jones has faced the highest percentage of high-danger shots, the second-highest percentage of medium-danger shots, and fourth-lowest percentage of low-danger shots.
Luckily, there's a metric that does take into account shot quality: goals saved above average (GSAA). GSAA works much like Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in baseball, and considers how well a league-average goaltender would do "based on the shot danger faced," according to Corsica's definition.
Jones has been better than his save percentage would indicate. His 0.54 five-on-five GSAA ranks 17th out of the 30 goalies that have played 1000 five-on-five minutes, and his all situations GSAA (8.69) ranks 11th out of 34 goalies that have played 1000 minutes in all situations.
GSAA has the same downside as WAR, in that it's an accumulative statistic, and favors players that have played more. In order to equalize for playing time, we can look at GSAA/30 shots faced.
Jones ranks 17th and 10th in five-on-five (0.03) and all situations (0.31) GSAA/30, respectively, among goaltenders that have played 1000 minutes in such circumstances. In other words, Jones has been about average during five-on-five play, and one of the league's better goalies across all situations, at least based on the kind of shots he's faced.
That's not neccessarily "great," but Jones has been better on the whole than his recent play would indicate. Of course, he's also been outplayed in his own crease.
Backup goaltender Aaron Dell not only boasts a higher save percentage than Jones, but his GSAA/30 in five-on-five situations (0.15) and across all strengths (0.44) are also higher than Jones'. Every 30 shots on the penalty kill, Dell (2.05 GSAA/30) saves nearly a goal more than Jones (1.06).
DeBoer also acknowledged that Dell will have to play more out of necessity, with the Sharks halfway through a stretch of eight games in 13 days. That includes a difficult back-to-back this weekend, hosting the Penguins Saturday and facing the Ducks in Anaheim on Sunday.
The coach was on to something on Thursday. Yes, Jones has been better than his recenty play, and his season-long save percentage, would indicate.
But that doesn't mean he's been "great," nor does it mean he's San Jose's better option in net right now.