Sharks bench boss Peter DeBoer said earlier this month that he'd like to play backup goalie Aaron Dell more this season.
And while Martin Jones will get the call Tuesday night in Buffalo against the Sabres, DeBoer told the media after morning skate he wants to give Dell more starts this season. San Jose's current five-game road trip through the Eastern Conference -- which includes a back-to-back later this week -- is the perfect opportunity for him to show he can take on a bigger role.
"We're going to split them in back-to-backs this year," said DeBoer, whose team plays the first of six regular-season back-to-backs later this week against the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs. "We'll lock that in -- unless there are extenuating circumstances."
Sure, wanting to split up goaltending duties in a back-to-back situation is nothing new. And with two such cases popping up on San Jose's calendar over the next two weeks -- the Sharks play a back-to-back when they return from their current road trip -- it's the best option for the team as a whole. Plus, it keeps Jones fresh not having him start in net on zero day's rest, while also giving Dell a better idea of when he'll get to play.
But how Dell performs in these situations likely will also have a huge impact on how often DeBoer taps him to start over the course of the season. Granted, he has played the best hockey over his professional career when he's had fewer days of rest between starts, going 4-0-1 with a .938 save percentage on two days rest as opposed to 30-17-3 when he has rested for three or more days.
DeBoer told the media on Tuesday that a lot goes into deciding which goaltender starts a back-to-back. Jones' performance in Tuesday's game in Buffalo could be a factor. Dell's lone start in Montreal, in which he stopped 30 of 31 shots-on-goal and logged a .968 save percentage, could also play a role in the coach's decision. Whatever influences the situation, fans can be sure they'll see Dell start at least one game over the next week.
While Dell's record on the season doesn't indicate a stellar start, DeBoer has expressed that he likes what he's seen from his back-up's game so far. Having the option to play Dell more is exactly what San Jose's bench boss wants.
"I wanted to play him more last year, but he didn't allow me that opportunity to," DeBoer admitted back on October 12. "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."
The up-coming back-to-back will be yet another chance for Dell to show what he can do.