How often should Korpisalo play?
It’s a delicate balance
I was surprised last night to see that Sergei Bobrovsky was starting on the second leg of a back-to-back, after playing in a shootout win the night before. It seemed an obvious opportunity to start backup Joonas Korpisalo. Korpi has not played an NHL game since New Year’s Eve against Tampa, though he did get a chance to play for the Cleveland Monsters on Saturday, a shootout loss in Rockford.
So far, Bob has started 36 games and Korpi just 8. Projected to a full season, that would be 67 starts for Bob and 15 for Korpi. Is that too many for Bob? Is that enough for Korpi?
Remarkably, Bob is 4-0 in the second leg of back-to-backs. Three of those were in extra time (OT at Minnesota, SO at Detroit, and OT last night at Toronto) and the other was a 1-0 shutout at home vs. the lowly Coyotes.
Korpi, meanwhile, has demonstrated remarkable consistency with just 2 goals allowed in 5 of his 8 starts. He averages 10.5 days between appearances. His longest gap (21 days) featured two starts with the Monsters.
While this seems to be working, I don’t see any reason why Bob should NEED to start both legs of a back-to-back. There are none of those in the playoffs. Given his injury history and the apparent fatigue come the postseason, I say the Blue Jackets should avoid overworking their star goalie.
How does the rest of the schedule stack up?
These are the remaining back-to-backs:
01/11-12: @ BUF, vs. VAN
02/02-03: vs. SJS, @ NYI
02/09-10: @ WAS, vs. NJD
02/13-14: @ NYI, @ TOR
03/01-02: @ LAK, @ ANA
03/08-09: vs. COL, vs. DET
03/19-20: @ BOS, @ NYR
After last night’s game, Torts said he doesn’t buy into avoiding back-to-backs. He insists on taking each game as it comes in deciding how to use Bob. That being said, I think it would be wise to give Korpi one start in each of those pairs of games.
There is also a stretch from February 14-26 where the Jackets play every other night. Give Korpi 2 of those games.
April sees 3 games in 5 days, at home vs. Detroit and Pittsburgh then the finale at Nashville. Hopefully the playoff seeding is settled by then. Bet on Korpi starting that last game.
Take a look at the schedule yourself. What schedule would you use to balance the workload between the two goalies? Would you keep riding Bob while he’s hot, or do you think he needs to rest more as we get closer to the postseason?