COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Columbus Blue Jackets have once again catapulted themselves in the playoff race, this time jumping from the No. 1 wild card spot in the Eastern Conference to the No. 3 spot in the Metropolitan Division with 67 points. This move comes after yet another win for the Blue Jackets who beat Florida 1-0 in overtime Tuesday night to increase their point streak to nine games (8-0-1).
The vocal point of the streak and CBJ’s rise to playoff contender is goalkeeper Elvis Merzlikins. The rookie is 11-2-0 during his last 13 starts, which includes seven straight wins in his last seven games. During that seven-game win streak, Merzlikins has a .965 save percentage with four shutouts which is tied for first in the NHL.
“I think what Elvis is doing is pretty spectacular only in that it’s such a magnified position you know everyone’s watching the goalie,” captain Nick Foligno said. “It’s obviously been a question mark going into the season so the way our goalies have played and I think it’s unfortunate a lot of people forget how good Korpi [Joonas Korpisalo] was before he got hurt as well. We’re pretty lucky to have the three goalies we have right now.”
As Foligno mentioned, Columbus’ run started with the goalie play of Joonas Korpisalo. Starting on December 9th, Korpisalo played a significant role in helping the team to a 12-game point streak in which he played 10 games with nine decisions (6-0-3) before getting injured on December 29th in a shootout against the Blackhawks. He has not played since that injury.
After Wednesday’s practice, John Tortorella stressed the importance of how Korpisalo’s and Merzlikins’ confidence has grown thanks to the other guys on the ice.
“I think it was one of the main things we talked about at camp this year,” Tortorella said. “Korpi had played games behind [Bobrovsky] but certainly wasn’t established in the league and then you have Elvis coming in playing in a different rink, a different league and I felt they needed to get their feet wet as regulars in the National Hockey League.”
The Blue Jackets can extend their point streak to 10 games when they face Detroit at home Friday night.