Joonas Korpisalo Has Gone Into Superstar Mode As Blue Jackets Continue Postseason Run

By Chris Pennington on August 14, 2020 at 7:00 am
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (70) makes a save against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in game two of the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena.
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, we saw backup Joonas Korpisalo.

This season, we saw all-star Joonas Korpisalo.

In the postseason, we're seeing superstar Joonas Korpisalo (I cannot wait to see what is next).

The Columbus Blue Jackets have found more success than most thought they would through the first few weeks of the NHL's postseason, and it is large in part to the 26-year-old from Finland who is stopping pucks at a head-scratching rate.

A head-scratching rate because just a year ago, Korpisalo had recently wrapped up a .897 SV%, 2.95 GAA year as a backup to Sergei Bobrovsky. Then, this year, he become an all-star with numbers like a .911 SV% and 2.60 GAA. Then...

Joonas Korpisalo
2020 Postseason Stats
  SV% GA Shots
QR Game 1 1.000 0 28 28
QR Game 2 .947 2 38 36
QR Game 3 .800 3 15 12
QR Game 5 1.000 0 33 33
R1 Game 1 .966 3 88 85
R1 Game 2 .973 1 37 36

Through his six games this postseason, Korpisalo is averaging a .962 save %, 1.5 GAA, and has recorded two shutouts to boot. The storylines in the midst of it all have made it that much wilder.

One is the fact this is Joonas Korpisalo's first postseason. He has never had playoff experience (outside of leagues lower than the NHL) but showed no signs of nerves in his adaption. His first game was a shutout, the first shutout in Columbus Blue Jackets postseason history. 

Mind you, the Blue Jackets played in 31 postseason games leading up until this year. And it took Korpisalo's first game to be the only one with a shutout (spoiler alert - then he did it again).

Another storyline being his bounce-back performance from being pulled in Game 3 of the Qualifying Round against the Toronto Maple Leafs. After letting in three goals on 15 shots and being relieved of his duties by Elvis Merzlikins, it appeared the reins (even I thought so) of the Blue Jackets' net were being handed over to his counterpart for the remainder of the club's postseason run.

After all, Merzlikins shutout the Maple Leafs for the remainder of that Game 3, leading to what many folks thought was his crowning moment as the face of the Blue Jackets' net (I, again, am one of those many).

“He's been amazing for us.”– Pierre-Luc Dubois on Korpisalo after Round 1 Game 2

But Korpisalo proved many wrong again. After Merzlikins gave up there late goals in Game 4 and the eventual overtime winner, Korpisalo was given the nod for a do-or-die Game 5. Like the professional he has seemed to become, he turned aside 33 shots for his second career postseason shutout, propelling the Blue Jackets to the "official" Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fourth year in a row.

Lastly, there's the storyline of Korpisalo's historic Game 1 performance against the Lightning in this Round One series. In the fourth-longest game in NHL history, Korpisalo broke the league record for most saves in a game with 85, and even though it was a losing effort, the point had been made. Joonas Korpisalo is the real deal.

Did we mentioned that the Lightning and the Maples Leafs were first and fourth in the league in scoring in the regular season?.

It goes without saying that the Blue Jackets' defense deserves much credit for the limited quality scoring chances that their opponents are receiving throughout this postseason, but Korpisalo has been on another planet with his game.

“We all know in the dressing room that he's one of the best goalies in the NHL and he's feeling really good right now,” Dubois said of Korpisalo after Game 2. “Every time we make a little mistake, he's there to stop the puck, giving us confidence to try plays. That's all you can ask for in a goalie. Since Game 1, since he started, he's been amazing for us.”

If Columbus wants to make a run for it, it will heavily depend on the heroics of Korpisalo.

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