Jones' workload 'too much' says former Sharks goalie

Jones' workload 'too much' says former Sharks goalie

When expected starter Martin Jones mans the crease on Thursday against the Oilers, he will be making his 42nd start out of 50 games for the Sharks.

It’s been a heavy workload for Jones this season, who is second in the league in ice time with 2419 minutes, trailing only the Oilers’ Cam Talbot (2588 minutes). If he continues at his current pace, Jones will start 68-69 games before the playoffs arrive in April.

That’s too many, according to NBCSN analyst and former Sharks goalie Brian Boucher.

“It is too much,” Boucher told CSN. “If they lessen his load going forward and end up at 62 games then it's fine, but to keep that pace is tough, because then you need him to play every game in playoffs. 

“If they don't have faith in [Aaron] Dell then it is what it is, but I don't think it's a recipe for a [Stanley Cup] to play a guy 70-plus.”

Another former goalie, Martin Biron, currently an analyst with TSN, RDS and the NHL Network, isn’t quite as worried about the Sharks’ number one netminder, who is 25-14-2 with a 2.23 goals-against average and .917 save percentage this season and headed to his first career All-Star Game this weekend.

“I think a heavy workload was to be expected for Jones this year,” Biron said. “With a first-year NHL goalie as a backup, he probably trained and prepared to play a ton.”

Biron pointed out that Jones played in 65 games last season, and that number should be fine.

“I think around [65] is good for him again,” Biron said.

If Jones is to play 65 or fewer games, though, it means Dell will have to get more work than he’s been getting. If Jones starts 23 more games post-All-Star break, getting him to 65, that leaves nine starts over the final 32 games for Dell. He’ll have started just eight out of 50 after Thursday.

The Sharks have seven back-to-backs left on their schedule. Even if Dell starts at least one game in each of those, it still means Jones will make 67 starts, which could be risky for a team that expects to make a deep postseason run.

The trend around the league in recent years has been to reduce their primary goalie’s workload. Back on Oct. 17 in New York, before the Sharks-Rangers game, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he would prefer it if his number one goalie – in this case, Henrik Lundqvist – would get fewer than 60 starts.

“In an ideal world the goaltenders that seem to be having playoff success are ones that are below 60 [games], or in the 55 range – in an ideal world,” Vigneault said.

The Sharks were in agreement with that philosophy last season when they acquired James Reimer from Toronto, although, to be fair, Dell has been much more reliable than previous backup Alex Stalock was last season. 

Still, Reimer started eight out of 19 games down the stretch for San Jose, and the Sharks mentioned that the added rest for Jones helped him in the postseason.

The messaging has changed this season, though. DeBoer has frequently brushed off any suggestion that Jones might be playing too much. 

After Dell beat the Flyers on Dec. 30 and the coach was asked if Dell might be earning more playing time, DeBoer said: “You guys must be his agent, or related to him somehow (laughs). We’ve got two good goalies, and we’ll decide every night who’s going.”

There was recent report that the Sharks are still seeking another goaltender, though. According to Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman, the Winnipeg Jets, who recently recalled Ondrej Pavalec from the AHL, feared losing goalie Michael Hutchinson on waivers “particularly to San Jose.” Hutchinson remains with the Jets, who are carrying three goalies.

The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year


The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year

Jannik Hansen's game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday marked the first time he scored in 355 days. 

Hansen last scored on Mar. 30, 2017 against the Edmonton Oilers, his second goal with the Sharks following an in-season trade. His scoring drought, in all, lasted 44 regular season games, 50 if you include the postseason. 

How exactly does a goal-scoring drought last nearly a year? The right (wrong?) circumstances all need to come together, and that was certainly the case for Hansen for much of the last year.

For one, the Danish forward was in and out of the lineup. San Jose played 83 regular season and postseason games between Hansen's second and third goals, and he did not play in 33 of those games. Plenty of players have had rough 50-game stretches, and that's often without not playing for weeks at a time, as Hansen has done a couple of times this season. 

When Hansen did draw into the lineup this year, however, he wasn't generating offense at the same rate he had in the past. This season, Hansen's five-on-five shot rate (6.19 shots per 60 minutes), shot attempt rate (10.53 individual corsi per 60), and unblocked shot attempt rate (8.95 individual fenwick per 60) were all down from his career averages, according to Corsica Hockey. 

That decline is natural, considering Hansen turned 32 just six days ago. Those rates were not down enough, however, to expect him to fail to score in his first 39 appearances this season. Naturally, a long run of bad luck played a big role in Hansen's dry spell.

Hansen went 0-for-66 in shots over the 50 consecutive regular season and playoff games in which he did not score. He's a career 11-percent shooter, and had he shot at his career average, he would have scored seven goals during that time. That feels about right for a bottom-six forward. 

In many ways, all of these factors fed into one another. Hansen wasn't generating shots or scoring, then was scratched, then couldn't find the back of the net when he returned and was scratched again. All the while, fellow fourth-liners Marcus Sorensen (26.7 percent shooting percentage this season), Joel Ward (14.3 percent) and Barclay Goodrow (13.2 percent) were converting on their chances, forcing Peter DeBoer's hand. 

His possession play has been solid all season (50.74 percent corsi-for, per Natural Stat Trick), but the offense hasn't followed. When it does, as was the case Tuesday night, he can be an effective fourth-line forward, and the goal on Tuesday bought him more time to prove it. 

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win


SAN JOSE -- Jannik Hansen scored his first goal of the season and fellow fourth-liners Eric Fehr and Barclay Goodrow also scored to help the San Jose Sharks win their season-high fifth straight game, 6-2 over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Logan Couture added his 30th goal of the season, and Joe Pavelski and Mikkel Boedker also scored to give the Sharks a four-point lead over third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division with one game in hand.

Brent Burns added three assists and Martin Jones made 26 saves.

The scoring barrage by San Jose spoiled Cory Schneider's return to net for the Devils. Schneider allowed four goals on 14 shots before getting pulled midway through the second period of his first start since March 8. Schneider has lost 11 starts in a row since his last win for the Devils on Dec. 27.

Taylor Hall scored his 32nd goal of the season and Blake Coleman also scored for the Devils, who lead Florida by just one point in the race for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers have two games in hand.

After Hansen and Fehr scored in the first period, Goodrow chipped one in midway through the second period on a surprising night of scoring from the fourth line when he beat Schneider on a 2-on-1.

Couture then scored 40 seconds later on San Jose's first shot against Keith Kinkaid for his third career 30-goal season. Boedker added San Jose's second power-play goal of the night late in the second and the rout was on.

The Sharks got off to a fast start in their first game back from a 3-0 Canadian road trip, scoring three goals in the first period and killing 1:20 of a two-man advantage for New Jersey.

The teams traded goals to start with Fehr beating Schneider over the shoulder from a bad angle and Hall answering when he stole a bouncing puck from Justin Braunand beat Jones with a quick shot.

San Jose then scored twice in a span of less than three minutes to take the lead. Pavelski tipped in a shot from Kevin Labanc on the power play to give the Sharks the lead.

Then after Jones denied Damon Severson from in close at one end, Dylan DeMelo sent a long pass that Hansen chased down and then beat Schneider on a breakaway for his first goal since March 30, 2017.

NOTES: DeMelo has 10 assists this month. ... San Jose D Brenden Dillon has a five-game point streak. ... Devils F Miles Wood (upper body) was scratched and Jesper Bratt played in his place.


Devils: Visit Pittsburgh on Friday.

Sharks: Host Vegas on Thursday.