SAN JOSE -– Two of the primary reasons the Sharks have had trouble at home, losing nine out of 13 headed into Monday night’s tilt with Colorado, go hand-in-hand.
Goaltender Martin Jones’ save percentage, the most honest metric when judging a goaltender, is a full 22 points lower at SAP Center. While Jones has been stellar on the road, boasting a 12-3-2 record, 2.22 goals-against average and .924 save percentage, those numbers dip to 3-7-0 with a 2.70 GAA and .902 SP in San Jose.
Has Jones felt more comfortable on the road?
“No, I don’t think so. I’ve felt comfortable at home,” he said. “For whatever reason it hasn’t really translated into wins. It hasn’t been from lack of comfort or anything like that.”
The other problem, as mentioned by coach Pete DeBoer several times, is the Sharks have had a tendency to fall behind at home. They have allowed the first goal nine times, losing all of them.
While DeBoer admitted there may be something to that incongruity in Jones’ home and road stats, a goaltender’s numbers are often reflective of the way the team plays in front of him.
“It’s a big enough discrepancy in the two numbers that there’s probably a little something to that, [but] at the same time we’ve probably played a little bit better version of our game on the road than we have at home,” DeBoer said. “Kept it a little simpler, kept shots to the outside, played with the lead more on the road than we have at home, which makes a big difference. I think there’s a lot of things that go into that number.”
DeBoer hasn’t been necessarily displeased with his team’s starts, despite the fact that on five occasions, the Sharks have allowed the first goal-against within the first five minutes of the game.
“I don’t know about better starts. We haven’t scored first at home. We’ve had some great starts where we have two or three shifts in the other team’s end and got the first four or five shots, and then they come down and get the first goal,” DeBoer said. “We have a big miscue or we give up a grade-A chance and it ends up in our net, and we’re playing from behind.”
Getting on top early is sure to be a focus of the Sharks’ five-game homestand, as they remain bunched up with several other teams in a weak Pacific Division. They begin Monday in fourth place (17-15-2, 36 points), just one point behind Arizona and Calgary, but only three ahead of sixth-place Edmonton.
Joel Ward said: “We’ve got to find a way. We’ve got to start winning some games. … It’s a tight race. We can’t afford to slip. We got a big win last game, and hopefully we can have a good homestand.”