Sharks

Sharks

SAN JOSE -- After Aaron Dell tended twine in the Sharks' first regular-season win Thursday in Chicago, many believe he might start a second consecutive game.

From the looks of things at Saturday's morning skate, however, de facto starter Martin Jones will get the call instead Sunday night when the Sharks host the Calgary Flames.

But the decision to start Dell against the Blackhawks wasn't about sending a message to Jones after four straight losses, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said Saturday. That decision was about giving his backup goalie more starts.

In the long run, this is something that could greatly benefit the Sharks' goaltending situation.

"It isn't any kind of indictment on Martin Jones," DeBoer insisted when asked about choosing to start Dell in Chicago. "I kind of decided over the summer that I wanted to play Deller more."

While Jones and Dell both faced downturns in performance through their 2018-19 campaigns and ended the regular season with goals-against averages under .900, Dell was the goalie who spent most of the time sitting on the bench. So DeBoer gave his backup some offseason homework ahead of this season so that, hopefully, wouldn't happen again.

Dell then showed off that hard work in his start, making huge saves that kept the Blackhawks from running up the scoreboard early in the contest. In the final minute of play, Dell's insane saves allowed San Jose to hang on for their first win.

 

"I wanted to play him more last year, but he didn't allow me that opportunity to," DeBoer admitted. "So I told him over the summer that, 'I want to get you in more games than I did last year. I'm going to give you the opportunity early to play some more, but you have to help me and play well when you get in there.' And I think he did that."

Getting better performances out of Dell ultimately can help Jones, too. Jones plays some of his best hockey when the stakes are higher, and he easily could get a boost from his backup having a more reputable season. And since the two netminders have built a solid working relationship, the whole team can benefit.

"We've had a good relationship over the last few years, so it's been good for our team, " Jones said. "We're on the same team here. We all want the same thing. We all want to win."

Now, if the defense in front of both Jones and Dell can tighten up, the Sharks really will be in good shape.

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"We've started to help our goaltenders, but our game in front of those guys isn't where it needs to be yet either," DeBoer said. "I think slowly we've gotten a little bit better every game."