The Athletic National Hockey League (NHL) watcher Alison Lucan after the night’s game, in which Columbus Blue Jackets goalkeeper Elvis Merzlikkin had a not-so-successful end to the game and as a result failed to save his team from losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs, indirectly expressed doubts about the Latvian puck catcher entering the team goal in the next decisive fifth match of the series.
“Even after three games in a row in which Columbus has scored three or more goals, Merzlikkin and Jonas Corpisalo still have reason to be optimistic about what the team can still achieve,” the observer said. “Probably the last four minutes of regular time in this night’s game were not the best for Merzlikkin. He probably wished he hadn’t missed William Nielander’s goal, but the Blue Jackets defense also gave Toronto players like John Tavares and Zac Haiman too much time and space to score the next two goals. ”
“It is not known which goalkeeper will start the fifth game of the series, but they have both shown that they can demonstrate a commendable performance. Also head coach [Džons Tortorella] has shown that he is not afraid to change hockey players in certain positions, if the game requires it, “Lukana said.
For the first time in the playoffs, Merzlikins kept the Blue Jackets goal from the first seconds and played his first full NHL playoff match. It has already been reported that Merlikin’s Finnish competitor Jonas Korpisalo started the third game of the series at the Columbus goal, but after three goals were scored until the middle of the second period, Korpisalo was replaced and Elvis entered the goal. The Latvian kept the goal intact and helped the team win in overtime with 4: 3, which earned him the role of the first goalkeeper in this night’s game as well.
In his first full-fledged elimination tournament game, Merzlikins helped the team’s first goal tonight and kept his goal intact until the 57th minute of the match, but at the end of the regular time he missed three goals and was unable to save the team from losing overtime with 3: 4. According to the reviewer Alison Lucana, after such a final result, it is not known whether Elvis will protect the goal in the fifth match. According to experts, if the Blue Jackets won this night’s game, Elvis would probably have secured a place in the goal in the next matches, but now the fate of the Columbus goal is not clear. The result in the series has become a draw again (2-2) and everything will be decided by the fifth game.
According to evolving-hockey.com, Merzlikkin and Corpisalo rank ninth and eighth, respectively, among all 33 goalkeepers in the playoffs in a special statistic. Both goalkeepers have let in less puck into their own goal than should statistically be the case. Also in that night’s game, before Toronto scored their first goal, Merzlikin had repelled 57 shots in a row (including last match).
Merzlikins repelled 49 of 53 opponents’ shots tonight and was named the third star of the game despite three goals in the last minutes.
The decisive (fifth) game of the series “Blue Jackets” against Toronto will be played tomorrow night – at 23:00 Latvian time.