Elvis Merzlikins Must Show Signs of Life in His First Start in Three Weeks

By Coby Maeir on December 6, 2022 at 10:15 am
Elvis Merzlkins
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

A season to forget for Elvis Merzlikins.

This is Merzlikins' fourth NHL season, and it has been by far his worst. In nine games and eight starts, he's posted a 4.74 GAA and a .864 SV%, both career lows. 

The analytics aren't kind, either. Per moneypuck.com, he's posted a league-worst -12.9 goals saved above expected. What's even worse is that Thatcher Demko, the goalie who's second-worst in that metric, has posted -11.2 goals saved above expected in six more games than Merzlikins. 

On Tuesday, Merzlikins will make his first start since Nov. 15 when he suffered a lower-body injury against the Flyers. 

Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen said he doesn't have a playbook on how to handle Merzlikins' return to the ice.

"It could be great," Larsen said. "Could be horrible. Could be something in between. I don't know. He knows he's got a better game. I know he's got a better game."

The Blue Jackets need him to have a better game, not only tomorrow but for the rest of the season and for the foreseeable future. He's in the first year of a five-year deal that carries a $5.4M annual cap hit, which is the 12th-highest among goalies

The only way he'll become the Jackets' starting goalie again is by playing well. We'll see if he's up for the challenge Tuesday against the Penguins. 

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