At one point, this seemed like a Braxton Miller - J.T. Barrett - Cardale Jones starter battle.
This offseason with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Joonas Korpisalo was the incumbent goaltender and Elvis Merzlikins was touted as the "best goaltender outside of the NHL" by Jarmo Kekäläinen.
However, it was clear the job was Korpisalo's to lose. Merzlikins would need to overperform, and Korpisalo would need to be the same goaltender as a year ago for the new kid from Latvia to claim the net.
There was certainly some drama at times - Korpisalo getting benched on multiple occasions for in-game outbursts, and Merzlikins playing well despite not yet earning his first win.
This all, until the past few weeks. After four losses in a row where Korpisalo put up a .873 save percentage and was allowing nearly four goals per game, he kicked it into high gear.
In his past four starts, Korpisalo is 4-0-0, is rocking a .927 SV% while allowing exactly two goals per game. He also recorded the second shutout of his career on Monday night.
The following morning, Elvis Merzlikins, who let up a brutal third and fourth goal in a face-palming loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, was sent to the AHL to be with the Cleveland Monsters.
For now, as it has been the whole season with the Blue Jackets, it's Korpisalo's net, and he's giving his organization more and more reason to trust him after his play the past couple of weeks.
Questions still remain, though. Can Korpisalo be consistent, or is he only good to rip off a few good streaks here and there? Can Merzlikins adapt to North American hockey and take the No. 1 job?
That's why we play the game, folks.
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