Now Healthy, Joonas Korpisalo Is Regaining His Form, And Not A Moment Too Soon For Blue Jackets

By Will Chase on November 15, 2022 at 1:45 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets' Joonas Korpisalo stops a shot from Philadelphia Flyers' Owen Tippett in the first period at Nationwide Arena.
Gaelen Morse-USA TODAY Sports

Saving 114 of 125 shots through three games is Joonas Korpisalo's average work day of late.

After everything he's been through, he's just glad to be playing hockey again.

While the 2022-23 season has been a struggle across the board for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Korpisalo has been a steady breath of fresh air, helping things where he can as of late.

In three starts this season, Korpisalo is 1-1-1 after making his season debut against the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 5 in Finland during the 2022 NHL Global Series. He played well even though the team lost 5-1, stopping 40 of 45 shots, and staving off 18 high-danger scoring chances. Picking up his first win of the season on Nov. 10 in a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, he stopped 32 of 34 shots. Then on Long Island against the New York Islanders on Nov. 12, he stopped 42 of 46 shots in a 4-3 overtime loss.

The win over the Flyers helped the Jackets end a five-game losing streak while the overtime loss against the Islanders was also one of the clubs' better games this season, especially considering the contributions the team picked up on the offensive and defensive sides of the puck following the many considerable injuries currently plaguing the team.

According to Natural Stat Trickthe Islanders had a 4.92 xGF in all situations—3.31 while 5v5—and following a first period that looked anything but an offensive explosion was about to break out. The Islanders fired 35 shots at Korpisalo across the second and third periods.

In that game, MoneyPuck had Korpisalo making 1.42 goals saved above expected and faced eight high-danger shots, while he did allow two high-danger goals. A defense missing three regulars in Zach Werenski, Nick Blankenburg, and Erik Gudbransion blocked 20 shots in front.

"Guys played well in front of me," Korpisalo said. "Huge battle in front of me. Let me see the puck and take care of the rebounds. Guys that came from Cleveland (Monsters) played great. I was really happy with how all these guys played in front of me."

With the early season struggles by Elvis Merzlikins, the elevated play by Korpisalo has come when the team needed him most. How motivated was he?

"A lot," Korpisalo said. "Surgery, a couple of seasons, all that. Just the whole summer I was waiting to get back into it and show them what I have."

A UFA last summer, Korpisalo opted to rejoin the club on a one-year deal worth $1.3 million. Throughout his three starts, he has a 3.66 GAA and a .912 save percentage.

It's too early to get lost in the weeds behind Korpisalo's numbers and whether he's really going to be the answer in goal for the rest of the season. But right now he's the hot hand and giving you the kind of performance you need.

Per MoneyPuck across all situations, while Korpisalo has yielded 11 goals, his 2.5 goals save above expected (1.71 via Evolving-Hockey) and 0.831 goals save above expected per 60 is a step in the right direction. In 5v5 situations per MoneyPuck, Korpisalo's GSAX is 0.9 (0.27, Evolving-Hockey), and his GSAX/60 is 0.335.

The kind of numbers you need from your goaltender.

If he can keep this up over the rest of the season, it helps solve at least one issue for the Blue Jackets this year.