Elvis Merzlikins the King
This is a weird year for the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Team is entertaining and while we hope for a playoff push. The Metro division is tough as ever and—play on the ice, notwithstanding–the jackets have had an emotional year. As Jacket fans get a feel for things at the quarter mark of the season, it seems like a great time to take into account where we’ve been.
Enter The Latvian King Himself!
Drafted 76th overall in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft, the former HC Lugano goalie is now a rockstar in Columbus, as someone who has been a media personality, he is beloved by the fanbase for his dedication to the Blue Jackets.
Elvis lost his brother and friend, Matiss July 4th as a result of an accident with fireworks. To say a loss like this would be crippling is an understatement. He was 24 and died tragically saving Elvis and his family.
With the continued struggle of the pandemic, Elvis managed to circle around Kivi’s loved ones and celebrate his brother’s life. I believe with how resilient and how dedicated Elvis he is, he can make a run for the Vezina if he continues to play like the rockstar goalie we all know he is. The game versus Nashville wasn’t his greatest, but I know with the right defensive structure, which the Jackets are capable of deploying he can continue to thrive and be the best goalie in the NHL he wants to be.
“I don’t want to make any promises, but I can tell you … my plan is to win a Vezina Trophy,” Merzlikins told The Athletic in comments published Tuesday. “I’m gonna win a … Vezina for him. We can’t make promises because this is hockey and we don’t know how the season can go, but this is my goal. I believe I’m going to reach it.”September 7, 2021 by Elvis Merzlikins
2020 All Rookie Team
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team on Monday.10TV Web Staff
Merzlikins’ first year with the Blue Jackets ended in the bubble series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a well-fought series but it didn’t turn out as we hoped, despite 5 overtimes.
Elvis Merzlikins‘ first big win was on New Year’s Eve, where he faced tenured and infamous Sergei Bobrovsky who was the former starter, before leaving for the Florida Panthers. Elvis ended the night with 36 saves and .973 save % with a nascent Florida Panther’s offense who would go onto the playoffs.
The big question of this year was whether Merzlikins could adjust to the smaller NHL rink size, compared to Europe where the National League, where ice size is about 15 feet larger, for our fact-finding nerds.
With HC Lugano, he had a 2.63 GAA and a .923 save percentage, which is, by all means, is a successful goalie stat. Which did end up translating. His struggles were considerable, as his first start was a 7 goal rally by the Pittsburgh Penguins against the rookie, which was a baptism by fire.
He had come a long way from his original, 0-4-4 start, with a 2.89 GAA and .901 save percentage. By New Year’s Eve, he was 12-2-0.
Korpisalo’s 85 saves did wow us here in Columbus, and we have been treated to a great show during the bubble but it always appeared that one of our beloved goalies would snatch the starter position, once they became hot.
Conversely, Merzlikins this year was 10th in SV% (.924%), 6th in GSAA (13.21) and 30th in GSx (.41). He was the benefactor of a particularly hot streak at the turn of the new year when he won 12 of a possible 14 games with a blistering .953 SV%, but that’s not a small sample size – he was who I thought should have been named starter.August 11, 2020 by Brian Ginise
While I know I have been vocal about not liking Tortorella’s offensive style, his defensive system was really a testament to how suffocating it was in his era. As my fellow Ohioan, Brian Ginise goes to illustrate Torts’ offense was adept at preventing scoring chances. A credit to his 2019 memorable sweep against Tampa Bay as well.
With Korpisalo taking the lead against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Lightning after Elvis was deemed unfit to play his season ended in the final game against the Maple Leafs, which was unfortunate. Kivlenieks ended up backing Korpisalo in the play that lead to him being the starter next season. In the next two seasons, as I’ve illustrated Elvis has shown the ability to leave it all out on the ice and stand on his head to save a game.
His extension has been well earned.
Contracts & Career Stats
As of September 2021, the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Elvis Merzlikins to a contract worth 5.4M AAV, for five years with the club. This is indicative of where Jarmo is at with our goalie situation. Given that Elvis Merzlikins continues to make strides even after his struggles, he has a mindset to win. Which even my own struggles recently, is inspirational.
Elvis entered the building on October 5, 2019, and became King on September 24, 2021.
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