Okay, okay, okay.
It’s three games. It’s maybe not a huge deal. But so far this season the Sharks are once again getting sub-.890 goaltending, mostly from Martin Jones.
After last season, in which a great team was actively hampered by the worst goaltending in the league, Doug Wilson decided he didn’t need to make changes. After all, while Aaron Dell has long since proven he’s not a particularly effective NHL goaltender, even as a backup, this was (or at least, could have been) a blip in an otherwise solid career for Martin Jones.
And two appearances, both of which were against an absolute buzzsaw Vegas team, in which he posts two more terrible performances can also be part of that blip. But what Wilson has to wonder about is, “What if they aren’t.” You never want to start 0-3-0, especially when all those games are in your own division and specifically against your biggest rival. If the Sharks were hoping to be Vegas’s putative competition for the top spot in the division, gifting them four easy points to open the season ain’t the way to do it.
No changes in net after last season was odd but somewhat defensible. If this team gets to November and still can’t get even a reliably average performance from its netminders, though, you gotta make a change.
The question is, does Wilson have that ability? Not that you’d ever count on him to lose a trade or anything of the sort — more often, if you’re a GM who accepts a trade with Doug freaking Wilson, you’re going to come out on the losing end, or at least serve his purpose far more than you’re serving your own — but options may be limited. San Jose is right up against the cap, relying on LTIR money to give them any breathing room at all.
Part of that is because they’re paying Jones and Dell a combined…. $7.65 million against the cap? Wilson is widely and rightly considered a high-end GM but that’s tough to swallow. Not only would they likely have to offload one of those two goaltenders in an upgrade-trade (and of course, it almost certainly wouldn’t be Jones, given the price point of $5.75 million) but they’d have to get someone back who can be effective. And how many teams are looking to trade a goalie, even one who could be a solid call-up in the event of an injury, in the first place?
Again, it’s three games and the first two of them were against one of the three best teams in the league. There are also clear problems with the offense and especially the power play (it’s a net minus-3 right now, having scored zero and conceded thrice), but some of that gets worked out naturally. A team with as much talent up front as these guys have probably doesn’t shoot 3-point-something percent all year. But that .876 team save percentage might be giving everyone in that dressing room flashbacks.
And if you can’t trade a goalie — can’t find literally anyone to paper over that obvious problem — what do you do? It should also be said that the team hasn’t exactly made things easy for Martin or Dell, who have faced a combined 30 high-danger shots in just three games, which is a lot.
At the end of Saturday night’s loss to Anaheim, only the Canadiens and Rangers were giving up more expected-goals per 60 in all situations than the Sharks, but 10 teams were generating more xG than them offensively. You can’t keep trying to make that work if you also can’t rely on your goalies to even be average.
So maybe this is a coaching thing as much as it is a goaltending thing. It’s only three games, only three games, only three games, but at what point do you say something’s gotta give?
Anaheim Ducks: Sam Steel getting injured is a suboptimal way to start the season.
Arizona Coyotes: Stop me if you’ve heard this before but it seems like the Coyotes might not have the talent to score at a rate they need to win games.
Boston Bruins: Is the local media trying to gin up a goaltending controversy two games into the season? Well...
Buffalo Sabres: Only 15 paragraphs into this “Remember the glory days, Sabres fans?” column, we get the appropriate “look, it’s only two games and they also had that 10-game winning streak last year that meant nothing, but…”
Calgary Flames: Seems like Johnny Gaudreau picked up where he left off last season, and then some. What a player.
Carolina Hurricanes: I could really get into a heated Caps/Canes rivalry this year. Let’s go.
Chicago: It starts.
Colorado Avalanche: This sucks for fans, and the team, too. Time to regulate television as a utility.
Columbus Blue Jackets: So the Blue Jackets start the year 0-2-0 and get outscored 11-3, albeit in back-to-back games against Toronto and Pittsburgh. That still scans an awful lot like “playing to get the coach fired.”
Dallas Stars: Saying “hmm” for a million years straight.
Detroit Red Wings: What a goal by Anthony Mantha. Wow.
Edmonton Oilers: Just as we all expected, the Oilers are 2-0 and it all makes perfect sense (insofar as seven of the team’s nine goals have gone through either or both of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and they’re giving up 3.5 goals a night).
Florida Panthers: Okay maybe he is worth it.
Los Angeles Kings: To be fair to Todd McLellan: Sometimes you play Connor McDavid to open the season, y’know?
Minnesota Wild: More of the same, I guess you’d say.
Montreal Canadiens: It seems wild to me to say that a goalie was “spectacular” in a game in which he gave up five goals on 37 shots. “Forget the five goals he surrendered in regulation time,” ummmmmmmm…..
Nashville Predators: Okay and is this good?
New Jersey Devils: This is a decent encapsulation of how the Devils’ season has gone so far.
New York Islanders: Well, no kidding.
New York Rangers: Saw on Twitter where Derick Brassard was asked about that Zibanejad trade a few years ago and he was like, “Yeah, I straight-up didn’t get that one at the time.” And, yeah. He has eight(!!!) points on the Rangers’ first 10 goals this season.
I think the Rangers won Brassard-Zibanejad trade i dunnopic.twitter.com/NBzrlbLOc5— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) October 6, 2019
Ottawa Senators: When you put “shady” in the headline, that’s the good stuff.
Philadelphia Flyers: Definitely don’t get ahead of yourself just because you light up that Chicago defense.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Gotta love it when you have multiple-time concussion victim Sidney Crosby get into a fight and then also lose Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad to injury. Things are going great.
San Jose Sharks: Three goals in three games. That’s a record. For badness.
St. Louis Blues: Is this even the first dumb “barely offside” review of the season? Probably not. I bet I missed one. Stupid.
Tampa Bay Lightning: This is both good and bad, depending on your perspective.
Toronto Maple Leafs: In my opinion, you shouldn’t throw a stick.
Vancouver Canucks: Definitely not a good start. Definitely need to straighten some stuff out.
Vegas Golden Knights: Yeah it’s only two games but those top two lines look unreal.
Washington Capitals: This is a cool goal to allow when you win. What can ya do?
Radko Gudas what is you doing baby pic.twitter.com/wk4exBIYzU— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) October 5, 2019
Winnipeg Jets: So far, I would say, “worse.”
Play of the Weekend
I could watch plays like this forever.
Gold Star Award
College hockey started this weekend and I saw a kid on Providence go 4-1-5 in a game in which his team put up 59 shots on goal against a conference opponent. Pretty good.
Minus of the Weekend
That Blue Jackets L O Y A L T Y video was really weak. Bad idea. Shouldn’t have done it.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User “BannedFromCDC” is on top of things:
To Vancouver Canucks
To Edmonton Oilers
More NHL coverage from Yahoo Sports