After consecutive disappointing seasons in San Jose and a bounce-back year with the Philadelphia Flyers, Martin Jones was signed by the Seattle Kraken in the offseason to fill the backup goaltender spot. Once Philipp Grubauer went down early with an injury, Jones has been thrust into the starter’s role and so far, he’s running with it.
Many are skeptical of the performance, as Jones has not posted a save percentage (SV%) higher than .900 in his past four seasons. That being said, certain things indicate that his successful start might not be as unusual as it seems.
Kraken Defense Seems to Ease Burden on Jones
At both even strength and on the penalty kill, the Kraken are doing a good job to limit chances that get through to their goaltenders. The team has also done a fantastic job of limiting the chances coming from the slot at 5v5, which will obviously improve Jones’s chances of making a save.
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The penalty kill is an interesting study, as the Kraken began the year with one of the worst units in the league. As of late, they’ve slowly started to figure things out, climbing their way up to 25th in the league with a 74.1 PK%. While nearing a league-average penalty kill might not seem like a big development, it is for the Kraken considering how bad it was only a few weeks ago.
The biggest change for the Kraken is where they’re allowing shots from. The penalty kill units in 2021-22 ranked 31st and allowed an obscene amount of chances from directly in front of the crease.
The left heat map is from 2021-22 and shows a disturbing amount of orange around the entire slot area (orange is a higher shot volume, and purple is lower). While 2022-23 (right chart) still has the chances in tight, their overall kill has done better to limit the shot totals in the slot area. It also appears that they’re limiting the cross-ice pass to the right circle, which helps to alleviate the extra movement for Jones.
Jones Appears Confident in the Crease
One of the biggest flaws in Jones’ game has been his ability to make those really difficult saves consistently. Following his run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 with the Sharks, his play has been wildly inconsistent and a lot of that stems from his presence in the crease.
When at his best, Jones moves fairly well laterally and can usually make a play on…