Sharks need the very best of Jones vs. Avs

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Martin Jones can’t have a repeat of Round 1.

The San Jose Sharks could certainly use a few snippets from that seven-game series against the Vegas Golden Knights. Jones allowed just five goals across Games 1, 5 and 6, including a 58-save performance in the penultimate game that ended in double overtime.

It’s Games 2 thru 4 that Jones and the Sharks can’t afford. Going from 1-0 up in a series to 3-1 down. Being the scapegoat for your team’s misfortunes. That sort of thing.

It’s safe to say Jones wore a lot of hats in Round 1.

Getting pulled twice in a playoff series and allow six goals in another game where you weren’t given a mercy tug probably should have ended exactly how you might think — crashing out of the playoffs because bad goaltending doesn’t win championships.

Instead, Jones was able to rally, composing himself after getting benched in Game 4. San Jose did eventually win the series in controversial fashion, and Jones in Game 7 still wasn’t all that great (four goals allowed on 38 shots) despite getting the ‘W’ in an insane 5-4 overtime thriller. But he was able to pull himself back from the dead in Games 5 and 6 to put San Jose in a position to win, and that stroke of luck San Jose got in Game 7 was enough to

Jeykll and Hyde are thrown around too often in sports, but truly, it was Jones’ series to a T.

Games 2-4

• Record: 0-2 (pulled twice with one no-decision)
• .796 save percentage
• 7.62 goals-against average

Games 5-7

• Record: 3-0
• .946 save percentage
• 1.83 goals-against average

Jones is certainly going to have his hands full. The Avalanche put up an NHL high 41 shots per game in Round 1 and were fourth in goals per game at 3.40. Conversely, San Jose gave up the third-most number of shots per game, so the rubber is coming whether Jones likes it or not.

Jones’ five-on-five save percentage was a .924 in the Vegas series. To put that in perspective, it was good for ninth best among goalies in the round. Philipp Grubauer, who Jones will duel in the series, held a .964 save percentage in 5v5 situations — best in the league.

It should be noted that Jones’ expected save percentage was much worse at .913.

Jones’ goals-save above average also got a nice boost from being much worse after Game 6. Grubauer was the best in the category in Round 1, saving 4.74 more goals than what was expected when compared to the average.

And it should be noted that Jones will be facing one of the best lines in hockey in Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. Jones had his hands full with Mark Stone and Co. against Vegas and there will be no let up in this series.

Colorado walked all over the Calgary Flames, who got slightly better goaltending in that series.

Then there are the tangibles that can’t be calculated on a spreadsheet. Getting pulled twice in three games doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Letting in bad goals is deflating. That said, the Sharks were able to rally around massive bounceback efforts in Games 5 and 6, particularly.

If the Sharks go on to win the Cup, no one will be talking much about Jones’ first-round performance. But given that San Jose is still a long way from that, and they’re getting ready to face one of the – if not the — best line in the NHL, it’s rather timely.

The deeper the Sharks go, the harder the going gets. Jones simply needs to be at the top of his game.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.