Martin Jones has been unobtrusively very, very good for the Sharks this post-season, causing literally every broadcaster to remark on his "calming presence," a phrase I like very much. He's like a scented vanilla candle! Or the hushed sound of an evening breeze in summer! Or staring at an aquarium!
So far in the playoffs, Jones has been everything the Sharks were hoping they'd get when they traded a 1st round pick to the Bruins for him. As we've talked about before, the Sharks previous goaltenders haven't had the kind of playoff performances that Jones has had thus far. We don't do a lot of analytics here at BoC, but I thought it'd be interesting to dig a little deeper to find out why Jones performance has been so much better. Let's dive into the numbers of the Sharks previous Conference Finals appearances to take a look.
Evgeni Nabokov, 2004, vs. Calgary Flames
This series was notable because the Flames had the Sharks former coach in Darryl Sutter and former backup Mikka Kiprusoff. Take a look at this chart of Nabokov's goaltending performance:
Evgeni Nabokov, 2010, Chicago Blackhawks
The Sharks headed into this series confident, after knocking off the Avalanche in 6 games (thanks to Dan Boyle's ability to score goals on both ends of the ice) and the Red Wings in 5. I've charted Nabby's high danger save percentage here:
Antti Niemi, 2011, Vancouver Canucks
Niemi won a Cup for the Hawks, then Doug Wilson won him in a basement poker game in Elgin, IL during the off-season. Niemi was unreal against the Sharks the year before, and Wilson was counting on him to do the same thing for him. Let's take a look at how Niemi did 5v5 when the score was either tied or within one goal:
It's really fascinating what you see when you crunch the numbers, revealing patterns that just aren't apparent from the eye test.
Blues @ Sharks
4:15 PM Pacific
Prediction: We turn BoC into a full-time analytics blog.