Goalie Martin Jones is San Jose Shark’s MVP

Erik Khan,
Staff Writer

The San Jose Sharks just finished their deepest postseason run in team history, as the franchise appeared in their first ever Stanley Cup Final. While they were unable to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins and lift Lord Stanley’s Cup for the first time, this type of progress is definitely something to build on going forward.

The Sharks were heavily outplayed by the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final. The fact that they kept every game close until the end can be attributed to one man: goalie Martin Jones.

With the Penguins offense swarming the net and their strong forecheck throughout the entire series, Jones was forced to stand on his head if the Sharks were to have a chance.

Game one in Pittsburgh was hockey fans’ first glimpse into the greatness that Jones displayed in the Final. With the Penguins in attack mode, Jones was able to stop 38 of their 41 shot attempts. He made some unreal saves and the only goals he gave up came on plays where the Sharks defense left him out to dry.   

The second game in Pittsburgh featured a similar effort from the Penguins offense and Jones again was there to answer. Jones stopped 28 of the Penguins 30 shots on goal, and again, the only two he let by were on plays where he had no chance.

Penguins forward Nick Bonino set up Phil Kessel with a beautiful one-timer in the second period for the first goal. In overtime, forward Connor Sheary ripped one past a screened Jones for the dagger.

Down 2-0 and headed back to the Shark tank, Jones needed his teammates to get it going on the offensive end. The Sharks were able to secure their first win in Stanley Cup history in an overtime thriller which saw Jones stop 40 shots, an absurd number. Once again, his play was the reason that the game was sent to overtime and wasn’t out of hand early.

The second game in the “Shark Tank” wasn’t as kind to the Sharks, as they fell to the Penguins 3-1. This was the only game of the series in which the Penguins offense wasn’t on fire, but Jones gave up three goals on 20 shots.

The Sharks didn’t help Jones effort, turning the puck over 20 times, with many of them resulting in a strong Penguins offensive attack.

While Jones was the best goalie in the 2016 NHL postseason, he took his game to a level that even he didn’t know existed in the Stanley Cup. Down 3-1 in the series, the Sharks needed Jones to be their MVP, and he came through for the men in teal.

After relishing an early 2-0 San Jose lead, Jones put on one of the most impressive goaltending performances in Stanley Cup history, as he shut the door on the Penguins offense. He stopped 40 consecutive Penguins shots over the course of the game’s final 55 minutes and lifted the Sharks to victory. Even with the Penguins throwing an absolute fleury of offense at Jones at the end of the game, he was able to keep their Stanley Cup hopes alive and send the series back to San Jose.

After a superb offensive performance by the Sharks in game 5, San Jose fans believed that if this continued, paired with the play of Jones, they had a legit shot to send the series back to Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, the Sharks offense came out flat. Despite an incredible performance by Jones, highlighted by some acrobatic third period saves, the Sharks never found a rhythm and were forced to watch the Penguins celebrate their Stanley Cup victory on their home ice.

While the loss in the final is surely disheartening, the Sharks have found the answer to their most consistent question: Who’s gonna protect the net? Jones’ play has definitely solidified him as the starter for the future.

Jones appeared to come out of nowhere and played hero for the Sharks this season. The reason for this is because he played behind one of the best goalies in the league, Jonathan Quick, for the Los Angeles Kings. He never had the opportunity to display his talent before his arrival in San Jose last year.

With their biggest question answered, the Sharks boast their most competitive roster in recent years. Thanks to Jones, the Sharks nearly lifted their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. With him in net, they should be able to bring the first Lord Stanley home to San Jose in the coming years.