For the first time in their 25-year history, the San Jose Sharks are headed to the Stanley Cup Final, having eliminated the St Louis Blues in Game 6 with a 5-2 win. And when looking at the stellar performance by their goaltender Martin Jones as he backstopped a committed, cohesive, and hardworking team, no one should really be surprised.
Though Jones has a Stanley Cup ring with the Los Angeles Kings from his time as backup goalie to Jonathan Quick, his performance with the Sharks as their starting goaltender shows the skill and hockey sense he brings. In the Western Conference Final series against the Blues he earned two shutouts. Coupling his abilities with his demeanor on and off the ice though is perhaps what has made him such a danger to the opposing team.
“This guy’s composure, that’s the word that keeps coming up with me,” Head Coach Peter DeBoer said of Jones Wednesday morning. “You wouldn’t know after a game or the next day whether he got shelled and pulled or whether he won 3-0 against L.A, his old team. He’s just got that personality. I think it leads to what you see on the ice. That’s a really calming effect on our team.”
And his composure is not lost on his teammates, many of whom have commented on his low-key level regardless of what is happening on the ice.
For many teams, such a goaltender allows the team to focus on what they must do and not worry about the emotional highs and lows of their goaltender. But when a team is venturing into franchise history, his approach becomes all the more important.
From that moment when they played their eleventh playoff game in this postseason to however far they go in the Final, this is all franchise history, as the team has never made it this far in the quarter of a century of their existence.
“We were treading water around Christmas. There were some days there where you wondered whether we would find our groove,” DeBoer said before the game. “I think from that point on, we’ve treated every game, when you’re fighting for your playoff life right till the end; fighting for position in the playoffs; playing the L.A. Kings in the first round, every game has been the most important next game. That’s nothing new to us.”
Like so many other teams who have reached this moment, the Sharks will embrace the emotions coursing through their hearts and minds for perhaps the next day, reveling in the joy of reaching this milestone. But they will then return to the ice, suited up for practice as they prepare for the next “most important next game.”