Elvis Merzlikins came over to the NHL this season to much hype. Hailed as the greatest goaltender outside of the NHL, he made his league debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins to much fanfare ... and was promptly shelled to the tune of seven goals allowed.
Elvis would go on to lose his first ten appearances for Columbus, though five of them were in overtime or a shootout (one of which came in a shootout after Joonas Korpisalo was hurt and Elvis faced two shooters against the Chicago Blackhawks and lost).
After notching his first NHL win against the Florida Panthers and former Columbus netminder Sergei Bobrovsky on New Year’s Eve, Elvis went on to win eight of his next ten starts over the month of January.
After a February slump, Elvis was injured down the stretch and consequently started the playoffs on the bench. He came on in relief of Joonas Korpisalo against the Toronto Maple Leafs, winning one game and losing game four in overtime after allowing three goals in the final four minutes of regulation. Elvis was injured in that game and did not play again, though was reportedly close to returning, per GM Jarmo Kekalainen in exit interviews.
Though his season ended on a sour note due to injury, Elvis will be looking to return next year healthy and ready to compete for not only the starting job but an All Star slot in the Metro Division. If fans have learned anything about Elvis, it’s that he’s incredibly driven and wants to take the league by storm. Hopefully he starts hard down that road next season.
Elvis Merzlikins 2019-20 Stats
Games played/started: 33/31
Save percentage: .923
Goals against average: 2.35
Goals saved above average: 12.10
EV/PP/SH save percentage: .907/.851/1.00
Games played/started: 2/1
Save percentage: .946
Goals against average: 1.96
Goals saved above average: 2.13
Elvis Merzlikins' two-year extension with #CBJ carries an AAV of $4M.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 23, 2020
Elvis will be the higher paid of the two netminders heading into next season (pending any offseason trades or transactions). He’s in a battle to be the goaltender of the future here in Columbus and he has the drive to win the spot.
Elvis was a slow starter to the season. But, in the month of January, Elvis went on a tear. He won eight games in a row and, in the middle of them, had three shutouts in four games. After the third shutout, against New Jersey, he reached heights among the fans reserved for Rick Nash and Artemi Panarin.
The crowds embraced Elvis, and he embraced them. Never before has a goaltender, perhaps a player, played to his audience the way Elvis did. He took over the town in that moment and cemented himself as a rock star in net.
November 23, 2019. Columbus at Winnipeg. With the game tied at 3 late in the third period, Elvis attempted to play the puck. A bad play, and Andrew Corp ended up scoring the would-be winner with 18:06 gone in the period.
Elvis and Torts both have talked about that moment, and how much it mattered. Torts explained to Elvis that he didn’t have to be the hero - play the puck up the boards and trust your teammates to help you out.
It cost the Jackets at least a point, and the team lost in regulation as a direct result of the play, but Elvis bounced back at the end of December. But this teaching moment was unquestionably the low point from a slow start to the season.
How would you grade Elvis Merzlikins this season?
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