SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Martin Jones spent a Stanley Cup run as Jonathan Quick’s backup in Los Angeles learning what it takes to thrive as a starting goaltender in the playoffs.
Jones now gets his own chance to start in the postseason going up against Quick and his former Kings teammates when the San Jose Sharks face their rivals in the first round starting Thursday night.
Jones is taking the same calm approach to the series that he does with just about everything else he does.
“I think that’s probably who I am a little bit,” he said Tuesday. “I think I’m a pretty calm guy. It’s important. Especially over the course of a long season, kind of maintaining your emotion and not getting too high or too low.”
That low-key attitude is appreciated by his teammates, who say they are more likely to see him get mad playing a game of cards than from anything that happens on the ice.
“Nothing gets him really rattled,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “He’s the same way around the dressing room as he looks on the ice. He’s a real calming influence on people around him, which is a great characteristic to have as a starting goalie.”
After spending his first two seasons as the backup in Los Angeles, Jones joined the Sharks this past offseason. He was originally dealt to Boston before the Sharks acquired him last summer in a deal for a first-round pick and a prospect. Jones quickly signed a $9 million, three-year contract and lived up to the lofty expectations in his first season as a starter. Jones went 37-23-4 with a 2.27 goals against average as he proved he could handle the heavy workload of a starter.
“He’s a huge reason why we’ve had success this year,” teammate Patrick Marleau said. “He’s been great all year for us, making key saves, a lot of big saves throughout the whole season. Very calm, goes about his job. It’s comforting to know he’s back there and he’ll make those key saves at key times.”
Now he tries to carry that success over to the playoffs. Jones played two games as a backup in 2014 - including one against the Sharks - when the Kings won the Stanley Cup. But he also learned plenty just watching how Quick handled the pressures of the playoffs.
“I really think that’s why you have a routine and you don’t really need to be changing too much,” Jones said. “You have 82 games to kind of rehearse for this all season, so nothing really changes in terms of routine and off ice stuff.”
Jones had a heavy workload this season, starting 54 of San Jose’s first 63 games. But after the trade deadline acquisition of James Reimer from Toronto, Jones has gotten more time off.
Reimer started eight of the final 19 games, posting three shutouts in that span to give DeBoer another option if he feels the need to make a change at some point in the playoffs.
DeBoer stuck with Martin Brodeur for all four rounds in his only previous trip to the playoffs in 2012 with New Jersey. While he committed Tuesday to Jones as the starter for the opener Thursday night in Los Angeles, he remained open to making a change after that if needed.
“I don’t think there’s any blueprint for it,” DeBoer said. “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.”
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