Though Falling 3-2 in Overtime to the Chicago Blackhawks, Elvis Merzilikins Provided a Bounce-back Performance in His Second NHL Start

By Max Steele on October 19, 2019 at 10:15 am
Oct 18, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Zack Smith (15) tries to score against Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (90) during third period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the great abilities of the human mind is the power to make personal meaning from past experiences, framed and re-framed with new information.

If you want to know anything about this power of re-framing, ask Columbus Blue Jackets' goaltender Elvis Merzilikins. 

When considering his first NHL start (a 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins) after Friday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, Elvis sought to re-author his debut narrative.

"I'm not going to call it (the 7-2 loss to Pittsburgh) my debut.  I'm gonna cheat on this one...I'm going to count this one (Friday's loss to Chicago) as my debut," said Merzilikins.  "That was a nightmare, it's better to forget that."

Merzilikins, still looking for his first NHL win, looked at Friday's performance with a positive outlook.

"It wasn't seven goals, it was just three," Elvis said with a laugh.

While the 3-2 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks was undoubtedly not the desired outcome for the game,  Elvis' performance was a strong bounce-back effort.

While the Blackhawks are no longer the juggernaut they once were, they still boast an offensively-dangerous lineup including Patrick Kane, Alex Debrincat, and Jonathan Toews.  To hold them to two scores in regulation should be seen as a great outing for Merzilikins.

His play included several key stops on the aforementioned offensive stars.  One of those came off a high danger chance from Kane on Elvis's doorstep.

The game-winning goal was a disappointing end to Merzilikins' strong night.  Elvis, focused on stopping a powerful Patrick Kane shot, gave up a rebound that careened off Toew's leg and into the net.

"It was a bad goal," said Merzilikins.  "I saw it bounce off the knee of the player and got in."

Regardless of the score, the start yielded a net positive result.  Though the Blue Jackets' couldn't capture both points, a bounce-back game was needed for Merzilikins' confidence.  

The NHL season is long, and in the era of load management for goaltenders, it's necessary to have two capable goalies.

Now that Elvis Merzilikins has a solid performance under his belt, he has a confident foundation from which to contribute to the CBJ tandem.  Merzilikins will look forward to his next start as an opportunity for his first win. 

And, who knows, maybe that win will become his next new debut.