For the third time in eight starts this season, Martin Jones ended the night on the bench.
The Sharks (5-6-1) replaced Jones with 22-year-old rookie netminder Alexei Melnichuk with 9:11 remaining in the third period of Thursday's 6-2 loss to the rival Los Angeles Kings. Jones stopped 20 of the 26 shots he faced, and San Jose coach Bob Boughner didn't mince words about his starting netminder's performance.
"You can ask him, but that's not up to our standard, that goaltending," Boughner said in a postgame video conference when a reporter asked what Jones needed to show in his next start. "We've given him a chance to grab the net, especially with [Devan Dubnyk] being hurt."
The Sharks trailed 3-0 after the first period, with the Kings taking a 1-0 lead on a power play 2:47 into the contest. Anze Kopitar beat Jones, deep in his crease, glove side on a goal Boughner said "wasn't a very good goal, at all."
LA opened the scoring on its fourth shot of the game, adding two more goals on its next two shots on goal. Jones stopped each of the 12 second-period shots he faced before allowing three more goals on seven third-period shots. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Kings generated 2.32 expected goals in all situations based on their shot quality.
Jones now is 5-3-0 on the season and has been pulled in each of his three defeats. The Sharks won four of those games thanks to Jones' brilliance in the shootout and overtime, but that has not extended to regulation.
Among the 62 goalies that have played in at least two games this season, Jones ranks 58th in all-situations save percentage (.865) and 60th in goals against average (4.09). Jones has faced the sixth-highest expected goals per hour (2.8) out of the 58 goalies who've played at least 120 minutes in all situations, according to Natural Stat Trick, but he also has allowed almost nine more goals than expected based on the shot quality he has faced.
The Sharks will be without Dubnyk for a little bit, as he's day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Although Dubnyk is yet to win a game, he has played much better than Jones this season, posting a .917 save percentage and 2.71 goals against average. He was meant to be insurance in the event Jones continued to struggle as he had in each of the last two seasons, but Melnichuk's inexperience -- he only has two AHL games under his belt -- means the Sharks likely turn to Jones again Saturday afternoon at SAP Center against the rival Vegas Golden Knights.
No matter who's in net Saturday, Boughner's expecting more.
"We're not expecting him to win games for us and stand on his head, but we've gotta have solid goaltending, especially at the beginning of games," Boughner continued. "It's not up to our standard, and I'm sure it's not up to his own."