Seattle Kraken, Martin Jones

Kraken 2 Goalies Key; Experience And ‘D’

They’re not blowing anyone away with their personal stats, but the consistency of the Seattle Kraken netminders, Martin Jones in particular, has allowed them to post impressive numbers in the column that matters most: wins.

The number-one goalie to start the season, 31-year-old Philipp Grubauer, has had a few bright spots along the way, November 25th at the Golden Knights and December 1st against the Capitals to name two, but he’s otherwise struggled with his confidence and reliability. The 32-year-old back-up Jones has taken over admirably.

One never knows, this could always flip-flop, the key being the fact that the Kraken have the two veteran alternatives, more likely to recover from slumps than those with less experience. We’ve seen that from Jones already, who came out of the blocks slowly this season but has settled in to the tune of 15 wins in his last 18 starts.

“There’s a consistency to his game,” Kevin Woodley of InGoal Magazine and said of Jones. “There may not be at times the high end upside, but there’s a consistency to it. You can count on him being in the right position way more often than not. He’s not gonna make mistakes that hurt you. For a team that I think was looking for some some stability in net, that says a lot.”

Woodley provided a statistical example. As it relates to allowing goals this season on low percentage scoring chances, Jones has let in just five in around 400 chances, while a likely Vezina Trophy (NHL’s best goalie award) candidate, Juusi Saros with the Predators, has allowed eleven in about 500 chances.

In other words, Jones makes the saves his team needs him to make.

“He’s looked good in net, he’s looked calm in net, he’s made good saves at the right time,” Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol said ahead of the victory against the Senators. “One of the things we’ve done well in the two road games (wins against the Oilers and Maple Leafs) is to be able to settle the game down when we needed to and turn it back in our direction. The other night in Toronto it was during that first ten minutes, ‘Jonesy’ did a nice job. In Edmonton the night (game) before we went down by two, we were able to settle that game down and push it back our direction. So he’s going good right now and that’s why he’s back in net tonight.”

The Kraken won 8-to-4.

“Jones is a guy who’s just really clean technically and he’s worked really hard the last couple of years to clean that up,” Woodley added.

Kraken Team D

It doesn’t hurt that the Kraken provide their goalkeepers the 5th best NHL defense against the rush. Compare that to the atrocious next-to-last NHL rush defense up the road in Vancouver, and one understands why their goalies have been under the gun and shaky most of the season.

The Seattle skaters and their goalies have enjoyed some synchronicity.

“They sort of profile like the team we expected them to be, based on how they were built,” Woodley stated. “They’re really good defensively, and offensively too, so the stress that’s put on your goaltenders is a little lower.”

Analytically, Grubauer actually has a lower ‘expected save percentage’ than Jones, meaning his team gives up more and better chances when he’s in net. That can be hard to explain. Does the team collectively play better when Jones is behind them? Has the level of competition and/or skill against Grubauer been stronger? If so, that may contribute to his recent struggles.

It’ll all shake out Monday and Tuesday nights when the Kraken play the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres back-to-back. Kraken fans will get a look at both netminders. It’s quite possible Grubauer has found his game again while Jones has been working away.

That would be a good problem to have.

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.