Facing a back-to-back situation, an NHL club typically splits starts between goaltenders, as a goalie playing two games in as many nights often struggles the second contest.
But Blue Jackets goaltender, Joonas Korpisalo, wouldn’t know anything about that.
Korpisalo stood tall in his second start in two days, backstopping the Columbus Blue Jackets to an impressive victory against the previously undefeated Carolina Hurricanes.
In his post-game comments, Korpisalo appeared to view the back-to-back starts as a demonstration of the team’s confidence in his play. “It feels good that they trusted me to put me in just one day after (another game),” said Korpisalo.
Korpisalo, believed to improve his play with consistent starts, also seemed to look at the Friday-Saturday starts as an opportunity to remain sharp. “It feels good to play games and I’m glad we got the win today,” he continued.
Though sporting the stellar win, the young goaltender gave a lot of credit to the play in front of him. “The players did a really good job at taking sticks away and blocking shots,” Korpisalo said.
The most impressive point of Korpisalo’s night was his third period. After Pierre-Luc Dubois’ 3-2 goal, the Finnish goalie faced a barrage of surging Hurricane shots, holding strong and, eventually, on to the win.
But again, CBJ #70 directed his comments in praise of his team’s play in the defensive zone. “Not just the last two minutes, I think the whole third period was amazing. I think we played really, really well,” said Korpisalo.
The 24-year-old goaltenders’ words downplay the impressive feat of thwarting the Carolina offense. The Carolina Hurricanes have been an offensive juggernaut so far this season, averaging 4.4 goals a game before Saturday night.
Conceding only two goals and boasting a .938% save percentage against an offensively-potent team in a Metropolitan division match-up looks favorable for a Korpisalo who aims to further solidify his starting role.
And his performances have been building to this game’s showing. Korpisalo has improved in "goals against" every game, conceding four against Toronto, three against Buffalo, and only two in back-to-back starts against Anaheim and Carolina.
While this trend will undoubtedly not continue (though Korpisalo would love to try), it gives credence to the narrative that the young Finn will succeed with increased playing time in Bobrovsky’s free-agent absence.
While many NHL pundits either cited the Blue Jacket’s goaltending situation as a reason for regression or proclaimed Elvis Merzilikins to be the eventual starter, Korpisalo’s improvement supplies a retort to these predictions.
And just as he defied goaltending wisdom wiith his impressive back-to-back performance Saturday, I bet the Blue Jackets organization would love for Korpisalo to prove those who doubt him wrong as well.