Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins is listed as week-to-week after sustaining an upper-body injury in his last game against the Nashville Predators. The Columbus Blue Jackets announced the news via their PR Twitter account today.
INJURY UPDATE: Blue Jackets G Elvis Merzlikins suffered an upper body injury in last night’s game vs. Nashville. He was evaluated further today and is listed as week-to-week. #CBJ
— CBJ Public Relations (@BlueJacketsPR) February 21, 2021
Elvis Merzlikins Out Week-to-Week
Merzlikins’ injury occurred in the third period of the Blue Jackets 4-2 home defeat against the Predators on Saturday night. The 6-foot-3 net-minder was involved in a scramble at the top of his crease with winger Viktor Arvidsson. Merzlikins dove forward in an attempt to protect the puck as the Predators forward was digging for it with his stick. The play looked fairly routine and didn’t raise any eyebrows initially. However, Merzlikins flipped around during the sequence and as he got back into the butterfly position he looked in visible discomfort. After consulting the medical staff, Elvis managed to leave the ice under his own power. He skated off gingerly before heading down the tunnel.
— Alison (@AlisonL) February 21, 2021
This is the second time that Merzlikins has struggled with injury this season. The Blue Jackets also placed him on IR on February 4th with an upper-body injury; he missed three games over the course of a week. So far this year, Merzlikins has a 3-3-1 record in seven starts and a .917 save percentage.
What This Means Going Forward
The Blue Jackets recalled Matiss Kivlenieks from the Cleveland Monsters, their AHL affiliate, on Sunday. He will provide backup duties to Joonas Korpisalo while Merzlikins recovers. The fellow goaltender is 24 years old and has played in 6 NHL games. He featured briefly as the Blue Jackets’ backup during the 2019-20 stretch run while Korpisalo was recovering from knee surgery. Kivlenieks has a .898 save percentage in the NHL; he has stopped 123 of 137 shots faced.
Right now, there is an intriguing goalie battle for the starter’s job in Columbus. Korpisalo has long been ranked the better of the two goaltenders but neither is standing out as the clear favourite right now. Korpisalo has a fairly paltry .889 save percentage in 12 starts this season. Meanwhile, Merzlikins ranks among the bottom ten goaltenders in the NHL for save percentage above expected (-1.141). He currently sits between Jonathan Quick (-1.291) and Anton Khudobin (-1.068) on that list.*
Coming up, the Blue Jackets have a two-game home series against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, February 23rd and Thursday, February 25th. They then travel to Nashville for a double helping of games over the weekend in Music City.
*Stats as per Money Puck
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