InGoal Daily Update: Martin Jones an undrafted All Star
… Plus Marty Turco gets back in after bench mocking of NBC broadcaster, Robin Lehner struggling with Ottawa Senators yo-yo situation, Antti Niemi taking over in San Jose, and more in the Feb. 1 Daily Update.
Martin Jones wasn’t the only rookie puck stopper playing in Monday night’s American Hockey League All Star Game.
In fact there was a familiar face in fellow first-year pro Jake Allen, who Jones backed up for Team Canada during last year’s World Junior Championships, even replacing him during the gold-medal loss to the United States.
There was one big difference between the two, however: Allen was a high second-round pick, 34th overall, of the St. Louis Blues in 2008. Jones was never drafted, and only signed with the Los Angeles Kings after impressing during a prospect camp invitational tryout later that same summer.
Since then he has gone on to become the all-time leader in career victories, shutouts and most wins in a season for the major junior Calgary Hitmen of the Canadian Hockey League, the Western Hockey League’s top goalie and MVP of the junior championship Memorial Cup in 2010. And now he’s an AHL All Star at age 21 in his first pro season, posting a .930 save percentage and 2.17 goals-against average for the Manchester Monarchs.
The irony is he was right under NHL noses all along. As Monarchs coach Mark Morris pointed out in, it was former Canucks coach and current Dallas Stars bench boss Marc Crawford who “always spoke highly of him.”
Crawford should know. During his days in Vancouver, Crawford’s son, Dylan, used to go on the ice with Jones, a North Vancouver native, and former Canucks goalie coach Ian Clark’s son, Morgan, who now plays in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. That’s in part because Martin Jones’ dad, Harvey, manages the NHL team’s rink.
Yet the Canucks didn’t even bother to spend a late round pick on Jones, which now looks like a mistake as Jones makes what many feel is the toughest jump – from junior to pro hockey – look relatively easy:
“The thing they’ve really worked on with me is being more reactive,getting a second layer to my game where I can battle,compete and be a little more acrobatic,” Jones told NHL.com for an All Star Game preview. “In junior I could get away with (going down a lot) because there were only a couple real good shooters on each team. But at this level everybody can shoot the puck so well I’ve got to read the release of the shot better and my save selection has to be a lot more precise as opposed to being a one-dimensional butterfly goalie.”
InGoal Magazine will have an in-depth profile of Allen’s equally impressive rookie season in the AHL later this week, including some startling (for Hockey Canada) revelations about the reasons for his loss in the gold medal game of last year’s World Juniors.
In the meantime, be sure to check out the two stories on Jones in the above links, a wide range of photos of Jones by InGoal’s own Scott Slingsby (like the beauty to the left), including this series from earlier this season focused on visual attachment, and a profile of Allen’s development from his hometown newspaper. And for another AHL All Star story, check out the story from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton The Times Leader, which takes a closer look at why Brad Theissen has accepted an AHL job share with fellow Penguin’s prospect John Curry despite being an All Star goalie overall.
Turco back between pipes after mocking commentator from bench
Veteran Marty Turco will be back between the Chicago pipes Tuesday against Columbus for the first time since Jan. 16 after watching rookie Corey Crawford start nine of the Blackhawks previous 10 games.
Presumably it’s more about needing to get Turco back in a rhythm and Crawford some more rest down the stretch, and less to do with sparing the feelings of television analysts like NBC’s Pierre McGuire, who received this eye roll and head shake from Turco during a broadcast just before the NHL’s All Star break:
To be fair, Turco is as playful as they come and has a razor sharp wit, so without a direct comment it would be dangerous to take that clip at face value. As for on the ice, Turco is also better than the 10-10-2 record, .898 save percentage and 3.02 goals against average he’s posted so far. While he has always been a rhythm goalie prone to streaks and slumps, he got the majority of his starts early in the season, long before the Blackhawks began to do a better job tightening up defensively in front of their goaltenders, especially around the crease.
Of course, we are also on record that a big, blocking goalie like Crawford seemed a better fit for that style, but it’s clear Chicago needs to get both guys going, as their coach told ESPN.com:
“We want to play him,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “We need both guys. He gets a chance to play, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Lehner called back up to Ottawa goaltending carousel
The yo-yo in goal continued in Ottawa with the Senators recalling highly touted Swedish prospect Robin Lehner from AHL Binghampton after the all star break. Lehner, whose 6-4 win over the New York Islanders in his first NHL start was the Senators only victory in January, was saying all the right things after being called back up, especially about the.
But with head coach Cory Clouston already talking about sending Lehner back down later in the week, it’s interesting to note the young prospect was singing a different tune when he talked to the Binghampton Press & Sun-Bulletin about all the back-and-forth. Or maybe it’s just the AHL part that has him down:
“It’s been a little tough. But I don’t think it’s been anything with my game because I felt pretty good with the games going up and down. The only thing I’ve been thinking about is playing this building has been pretty hard. Sometimes fans are hard on you. As a goalie, as a young guy, you need to deal with that and come back, and I found a way to deal with that now.”
One-timers from the Goaltending World (Wide Web):
~ Antero Niittymaki is back on the ice but still not quite ready to return from a groin injury that forced the San Jose Sharks to twice rely on emergency backups, including a great story for University of British Columbia target Jordan White. The question now is what role he’ll come back to when he does return. After a lot of talk about having two starting goalies, it appears the Sharks are ready to hand the No.1 reigns over to reigning Stanley Cup champion Antti Niemi, according to the San Jose Mercury News:
“I know people have been waiting for the coach or someone else in the organization to say, ‘Hey, he’s our No. 1,’ ” Coach Todd McLellan told The Mercury News. “I’m saying that now, and I’m expecting him to continue playing that way. But we have exactly zero fear of putting the other guy in there as well.”
~ New Jersey backup Johan Hedberg takes a walk down memory lane with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, taking a look back at the “Moose” mania that ran rampant when he was recalled from the Manitoba Moose (the reason for the nickname, which remains a feature on his helmets even today) a decade earlier and promptly went on a remarkable run with the Penguins.
~ Mike Smith has been recalled by the Tampa Bay Lightning according to hamptonroads.com. Smith, who was on a conditioning stint with Tampa’s AHL affiliate in Norfolk, where he posted an 0-2 record with a 2.56 GAA and a .900 save percentage.