Joonas Korpisalo Is Earning His Stripes Faster Than Most Expected This Season

By Chris Pennington on October 13, 2018 at 1:10 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo looks on during a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Tom Szczerbowski – USA TODAY Sports

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We suppose this is a "good" problem to have?

John Tortorella said Saturday morning that he's ready to dig into how good backup goaltender Joonas Korpisalo can really be:

“Let’s face it. We’ve got to find out about Korpi. We don’t know what the hell Bob’s gonna do. We have to find out about Korpi, also, and being put into situations ... he was our best player the other night.”

In the history of their franchise, the Columbus Blue Jackets have really never had two solid goaltenders on their active roster (Pascal Leclaire and Marc Denis don't count).

Unless, however, we look back to the 2016-2017 season (the 0-8-0 start) where a 21-year-old backup had to step in for 31 games due to Sergei Bobrovsky being placed on injured reserve, and record a .920 save percentage and 2.60 goals against average.

That, folks, was a young Finn named Joonas Korpisalo.

Korpisalo, a third-round pick of the club in 2012, has spent his entire professional career with the Blue Jackets organization, earning his way up to the NHL from AHL Cleveland. While he's mostly been known as a serviceable backup to Sergei Bobrovsky, he's now starting to make his case for more responsibility and more starts.

Like we said, hopefully, this is a good problem to have.

No doubt that Bobrovsky is the clear No. 1 and the guy who will need to carry the Blue Jackets if they're to endeavor on a deep postseason run. The two-time Vezina winning goaltender is a lock for one of the best in the league at his position, and has been almost too-needed by the Jackets to close out games over his career.

But what Korpisalo has shown in his two starts this season has been the capability to bail the Blue Jackets out, a role that Bobrovsky has certainly held for the past six or seven seasons. 

In their season-opening win over Detroit, Korpisalo allowed two goals on 20 shots, while making some crucial saves in extra time for the Jackets to emerge with an OT victory.

Tortorella put Korpisalo right back in the net on Thursday night against the Florida Panthers – and he was easily the best Blue Jacket. He made 37 saves including a few big-timers, which helped the Blue Jackets win a game they probably didn't deserve to.

And if you're hung up on the fact that he still let in four goals, check them all out at 1:15, 1:37, 1:54 and 2:28 marks of the highlight video:

Three back-door one-timers. One crossbar-level tip. Nearly impossible saves to make.

As mentioned, it was a game where a goaltender had bailed out the Jackets for the millionth time, and this time it was Korpisalo. At the end of the day, he's the backup (for now). But we may be seeing a new era come upon us one game at a time. 

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