SAN JOSE – Although there was never much doubt, Sharks coach Pete DeBoer made it official on Tuesday that goalie Martin Jones will start Game 1 of San Jose’s playoff series with the Kings on Thursday at Staples Center.
In his first season getting the majority of the work in net, Jones, 26, posted a 37-23-4 record, 2.27 goals-against average, .918 save percentage and six shutouts. He was acquired by San Jose from Boston in the summer after spending the previous two seasons with the Kings as Jonathan Quick’s backup. His 37 wins was third in the NHL.
Jones started all five Sharks games against the Kings this season, going 3-1-1 with a 2.57 GAA and .913 SP.
“We played them well this year,” Jones said. “They’re the type of team that ramps it up for the playoffs, though. So, it’s going to be tough. Doesn’t matter who you play, it’s going to be a tough round. They have big, strong forwards and they crash the net pretty hard. Just have to be aware of that.”
Jones will be backed up in Game 1 by James Reimer, who was acquired from Toronto just before the trade deadline. In eight starts with San Jose, Reimer was 6-2-0 with a 1.62 GAA and .938 SP, including three shutouts.
DeBoer considers it a “great luxury” to have the kind of goalie tandem he has headed into the postseason.
“I think this time of year you really need it,” said the coach. “You look around the league now and you notice some of the teams are announcing their goalies aren’t available for the playoffs, or they’re dealing with some injuries. It’s a nice spot to be in for us.”
DeBoer left open the possibility he could use both goalies.
“We’re going to do what we’ve done all year. We’re going to take it game-to-game, and we’re going to give ourselves the best chance to win games.”
Jones, of course, was a part of the Kings in 2014 when they erased a three-games-to-none lead on the Sharks in the first round. He played in two playoff games on Los Angeles’ Stanley Cup run, including one against San Jose, seeing just seven shots in 57 minutes of play and stopping all seven.
The Sharks knew for the final few weeks of the season that they were likely to play either Los Angeles or Anaheim in the first round, although that wasn’t decided until Sunday.
Now, the goalie will be tasked with helping to conquer his former team in the postseason while allowing his new club to fully move on from the debacle of two years ago.
“He’s been here all year long and putting in all the work,” Patrick Marleau said. "He’s a Shark now.”
Jones said: "I think the main thing for us is we don't need to change anything, go through the same routine and get ready to play. Obviously everyone needs to ramp it up a little bit for playoffs, but nothing changes."