Columbus Blue Jackets goalkeeper Elvis Merzlikins has a tremendous opportunity for 2020: Joonas Korpisalo, the team's regular starter this season, is expected to miss several weeks after suffering a knee injury during the team's match against The Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.
The injury gives Merzlikins, a rookie with only 10 NHL games under his belt, the opportunity to help guide the Blue Jackets to the playoff position at the start of the final stretch of the season. With that possibility, however, comes additional pressure. On Monday, 25, he described that pressure and asked journalists covering the team to leave him alone while focusing on doing his best.
Merzlikins hinted that he had discussed this matter with the Columbus coaching staff and office management before making the request and expressed regret that his goalkeeper, Korpisalo, suffered a long-term injury in the middle of a caliber season All-Star .
"We ended up with the result that I would like to ask all of you to leave me alone," said Merzlikins. "I just want to focus. I just want to focus on my moment."
Columbus originally drafted Merzlikins in the third round of the 2014 NHL draft, but the Latvian native chose to remain in Europe until this season. He suggested that when he played for his last club, HC Lugano, in which he played in the most important league in Switzerland since 2013-19, he did not speak with the media during the playoffs in order to concentrate on "the world of the goalkeeper,quot;.
"There's a lot of pressure on me. That's just another pressure on me. I don't want it," Merzlikins said. "I have nine defeats if I'm not mistaken. This is my moment. I just want to try to focus on it. Try to play my game and finally try to get in my skin and feel. I'm just going to ask you to leave me alone for now."
Merzlikins (0-4-4) have not yet recorded a victory in their eight NHL starts this season. It has a save percentage of .889 and 3.41 goals against the average: Korpisalo (17-10-4), by comparison, has a saving percentage of .913 and 2.49 goals against the average between the pipes for the Bue Jackets.
Latvian's first opportunity to take over when the new owner of his team arrives home on New Year's Eve against the Florida Panthers. Until December 29, the Blue Jackets (17-14-8, 42 points) remain six points from the playoff position in the East, with four teams between them and the second place of wildcards in the conference.