Don't try to make sense of these Columbus Blue Jackets. It'll just hurt your brain.
After a mountainous amount of injuries piled up, the Columbus Blue Jackets naturally responded by going 12-2-4 in their last 18 games and looking darn good while doing it.
Columbus sat at just a 27.5% chance to make the playoffs in early December according to MoneyPuck.com, and have soared back into the race since, putting themselves up to a 50% chance.
A big reason for this surge has been the unprecedented play from rookie goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, who heavily struggled in his first few months in the NHL. Through his first eight starts, he held a .894 SV% and allowed 25 goals.
In his last eight games, however, Merzlikins is putting up staggering numbers of 1.65 GAA and a .949 SV%. Looks like he's finally getting used to that North American ice, yes?
His back-to-back shutouts as of Tuesday night were the first by a rookie Blue Jacket goaltender since Steve Mason in the 2008-2009 campaign, and Merzlikins did it against the highly-touted Vegas Golden Knights and Boston Bruins. The kid is done messing around.
Doubling your playoff odds in a matter of a month is no joke - and knowing how many injured players that Columbus still has makes this even more incomprehensible. Elvis is in the building, and let's hope his swagger stays.
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