Analytics with Alison: Mr. Jones and SEA

Analytics with Alison: Mr.  Jones and SEA

Analytics with Alison: Mr. Jones and SEA

Martin Jones was named third star of the week this week by the NHL. If you read the press release, it credits the goaltender’s strong performances in the Kraken’s last two games, both overtime wins.

But if you’ve been paying attention, you know Jones deserves recognition for much more than that. He has been a huge part of the team’s success after taking over the starting role Phillip Grubauer he was recovering from an injury.

“It adds an element to our defense that we have so much confidence in,” he added. Jared McCann said “It’s like, ‘oh, he’s going to make the save and we’re going to get away with it.’ It gives us that confidence.”

How good has Jones been?

let’s dig

Through 15 games played, according to Sportlogiq, Jones has 10 quality starts (the most of any NHL goaltender this year) and one shutout. He ranks sixth in the league in preventing even goals that should have been scored (7.17 goals saved above expectations, according to Evolving-Hockey.com). Adjusted for per 60 minutes of play, Jones’ 0.62 goals-against-expectation basically matches his career-best year (0.63 GSAx, 2013-14).

In fact, if you look at the 411 NHL games the North Vancouver native has played, two of his career-best 15 have come in the last month (11th: 2.57 GSAx vs. Pittsburgh, Oct. 29; 12th: 2.56 GSAx vs. Winnipeg, Nov. 13).

“The numbers are really good for Jonesy if you look at the last 8, 9, 10 games,” Dave Hakstol said. “There’s a reason our team is growing in confidence, the savings, not just the volume of savings and the numbers, but the savings at the right time.”

Up to this point, it’s all about quality, but also timeliness. If we look at the 25 most dangerous shots Jones has faced this season based on shot quality (and we can do that thanks to Evolving-Hockey.com), he’s stopped 18 of them from going into the net . That includes this save by Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel in the Oct. 29 win over the Penguins.

Tweet from @AlisonL: I got it every time Martin Jones has faced this season. Of the first 25, he rejected 18, including this one. #SeaKraken pic.twitter.com/6HKRbDBeCN

look at the clock Not only was that chance one of the most dangerous, but it came late in the game with Seattle protecting a lead.

Equally impressive is that if we look at the shots Jones is facing by location (per Sportlogiq), the goaltender is getting more shots against than the league average, but is pretty much in line, if not above average the league.

It seems that no matter where a shooter chooses to attack the net behind Jones, or where he shoots from on the ice, it’s just a challenge to beat the Kraken goaltender.

The following image from HockeyViz.com shows Jones’ save ability by shot location. Blue indicates areas where the probability of a goal is below league average and red marks where you have a better chance of beating the 6-foot-4 player.

There is not much room for opportunity.

So what makes Jones so hard to score right now?

Here’s what we asked McCann, a proven scorer and one of the league’s top scorers who led the Kraken in goals and points last season.

“(Jones) is so big that he usually takes up a lot of the net,” McCann said. “And for a big guy, he obviously moves well. (His size) helps him a lot when it comes to deflections, and he can gobble up pucks, too. He’s been amazing for us.”

McCann echoed the observation of other players who said it’s not just Jones’ size, but his ability to stand tall (instead of crouching too low) that makes him a challenge to mark.

It’s not just the work Jones does to keep the puck out of the net that has made him valuable to his team. McCann pointed to Jones’ ability to get pucks into the corners for defenders to recover and start their break.

it’s something Adam Larsson he also praised, along with Jones’ ability to make quick plays. And again, he mentioned these timely savings.

Tweet from @AlisonL: Great stop by Jones on Kaprizov #SeaKraken pic.twitter.com/ZyUSzPG10W

We asked the blue veteran if a goalkeeper can be “clutch”.

“I think a goalkeeper can probably be the most important of all,” Larsson said. “I mean, if a goaltender has a bad day, he could usually end the game.

“(Jones) has been phenomenal … and he’s fun to watch, too. I mean, when we’re on the bench, too, he’s making some unreal saves.”

Jones, of course, demurs when asked what works in his game. He will target the defenders in front of him. After all, the Kraken are once again tops in the league when it comes to limiting opponents’ offense. The team currently ranks seventh in shots against per 60 minutes of play (2.36 expected goals against, according to Evolving-Hockey.com).

“We check really well, we’re really good at clearing the middle of the ice,” Jones said. “[Other teams’] high danger goal chances are really limited and. . .We don’t give teams much time and space. Odd man rushes are limited. I can play solid and make a couple of timely saves and that gives us a good chance to win.”

But in a week that earned the 32-year-old NHL honors, and in a season that has seen some of the best performances of his career, the game Jones is most proud of boils down to something much purer.

When asked which game stands out, he points to the same Oct. 29 home win against the Penguins.

“Maybe the first game after my son was born,” Jones said. “I didn’t sleep much coming out of the hospital…it was a good thing.”

#Analytics #Alison #Jones #SEA

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