The Columbus Blue Jackets have announced that goaltender Elvis Merzlikins is out. The nature of the injury or other ailment is unknown at this time. We also don’t know how long he will be absent. Blue Jackets reporter Jeff Svoboda reported the update from coach John Tortorella late Monday morning.
Tortorella on Elvis Merzlikins: "He's out. I'm not sure how long." #CBJ
— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) August 10, 2020
Blue Jackets Elvis Merzlikins Out
The 25-year-old Merzlikins had an uneven 2019–20. He was bad in October and November with save percentages under .900 but roared back in December. Merzlikins posted save percentages above .910 through March and goals-against-averages below 2.6. He was a huge part of Columbus’ success in the middle of the year when starter Joonas Korpisalo suffered an injury. Merzlikins finished the regular season with 13 wins in 33 appearances with a .923 save percentage and 2.35 goals-against-average.
The Blue Jackets originally selected Merzlikins in the third round of the 2014 Draft. He is one of just seven Latvians to reach the NHL, five of whom are currently active. The NHL has often seen contributors from Eastern Europe but it’s interesting to see a recent wave from the Baltic States. Latvia has the most of the three nations, ahead of Lithuania’s one. Estonia has not produced an NHL player. Latvia is a small country but Merzlikins is certainly part of a group showing that talent exists outside of Europe’s traditional hockey nations.
What This Means for the Future
The Jackets will lean on Korpisalo when they begin a postseason series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Korpisalo finished the regular season with 19 wins in 37 appearances. He posted a .911 save percentage and 2.60 goals-against. Matiss Kivlenieks will back Korpisalo up in the net. Kivlenieks is also from Latvia but did not have a strong debut in 2019-20. The 23-year-old was fine but struggled at times. He had a .898 save percentage and 2.95 goals-against is six appearances. The Jackets were able to upset Tampa last year but losing Elvis is not what the team needs if they want to do it again.