On the brink of elimination, who’s the key for the Sharks to turn this series around?
After beating some of the best teams in the Western Conference in the first three rounds, the San Jose Sharks looked poised to win their first Stanley Cup. Unfortunately for them, they’ve run into a red hot Pittsburgh Penguins team.
The Sharks came into the series leading the playoffs in scoring with an average of 3.5 goals per game. Players like Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, and Brent Burns were the top point producers and were causing fits for opposing defenses.
As you can see, it’s no surprise how the Sharks got to the Stanley Cup. But despite their dominance in the early rounds, the Stanley Cup Finals has not been so forgiving.
Through five games, the Sharks find themselves down three games to two. The Penguins have dominated every aspect of the game and the Sharks have had no answer for the Penguins’ speed and aggressiveness.
As the Sharks look for answers, there is one player that controls their fate and his name is Martin Jones. He’s the key for the Sharks if they plan on coming back and winning their first ever Stanley Cup.
Playing in his first ever playoffs, Jones has looked completely unfazed. He has started every game and has posted a .922 save percentage along with a 2.16 goals against average. He has finally given the Sharks the playoff goaltending stability they have been longing for.
In these five games the Sharks offense has not clicked, only averaging 2.2 goals scored. Pavelski just scored his first goal of the series in Game 5 and it was only an empty-netter. He came into the series leading the playoffs with 13 goals and the Penguins have completely shut him down. Outside of the 4-2 Game 5 win, Burns and Couture have combined for only four points. The offense hasn’t been getting it done and that’s why the Sharks have had to rely on Jones being exceptional.
In the series, Jones has been standing on his head, but the Sharks still find themselves down. He has a 1.07 goals against average with a .933 save percentage, and has made 40+ saves twice. Yet they’ve still managed to lose three games in the series to this point.
The Sharks in Game 5, like every other game so far, had no business winning. The Penguins dominated play firing 46 shots on Jones. If it weren’t for two crazy redirections, one off Carl Hagelin and the other off his own defender, Jones would have pitched a shutout.
All throughout the night, Jones was tested. Despite being bombarded with shots, Jones was his normal calm, cool, and collected self making countless second and third chance saves. His positioning was typically great as he was able to effectively contest every shot.
If the Sharks plan on taking this series to a Game 7, they are going to have to rely on Jones just as they’ve done all series long. Jones has kept them in every game and has given this team a chance to win their first ever Stanley Cup. If the offense can get going, I would not be surprised to see the comeback take place.
Edited by Jeremy Losak.
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