The San Jose Sharks have won four of their last five games and seem to be trending in the right direction. They stand in third place in the Pacific Division with a 23-13-7 worth 53 points, but one thing that could hold the team up is the play of their goaltending.
Paul Gackle of The Mercury News writes that the Sharks rank 31st in the league in even-strength save percentage (89.85 percent) even though the defense seems to have found their game in the month of December. The root of the problem has been the play of starter Martin Jones, who just started a six-year, $34.5MM contract, who has a 2.88 GAA and a .897 save percentage in 31 appearances this year. Head coach Peter DeBoer has put more responsibility on backup Aaron Dell lately, but Gackle writes the team might start to worry whether they can count on Jones for the playoffs.
While a trade is a possibility, Gackle writes that the team’s other option would be to give some playing time to one of their AHL goaltenders in Antoine Bibeau and Josef Korenar, who was just named to the AHL All-Star game. The team could also consider trade rentals such as Brian Elliott, Michal Neuvirth, Keith Kinkaid and Petr Mrazek, but with Jones’ contract, the team is quite limited.
Despite being rumored to be ready to return, Los Angeles Kings head coach Willie Desjardins said that defenseman Alec Martinez is “not quite there yet,” according to Los Angeles Times’ Curtiz Zupke. Martinez has been out with an upper-body injury since Dec. 8.
New York Rangers prospect Vitali Kravtsov had two things going against him at the World Juniors, according to NHL.com’s Igor Eronko. The Rangers’ 2018 first-round pick played through a torn triceps during the WJC playoffs for Russia, which finished with a bronze medal. The scribe also points out that Kravtsov moved to the center position in November with his KHL team, Chelyabinsk Traktor, despite never having played that position before in his career. Despite that, he centered Russia’s first line despite just 12 games of center experience.
Speaking of injuries at the WJC, Anaheim Ducks announced that prospect Max Comtois will miss the next two weeks due to the fact that he played throughout the tournament with a separated shoulder. Comtois, who scored five goals and an assist in five games for Team Canada, played for the Ducks for 10 games earlier this season, but was returned to the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL. The 2017 second-round pick will return there after he recovers from his injury.