Columbus Blue Jackets: John Tortorella’s Goaltending Move Pays Off
We didn’t know who would be the starting goaltender for the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday morning before their game on Sunday night in Game 1 in the Qualifying Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Head Coach John Tortorella decided to go with Joonas Korpisalo over Elvins Merzlinkins. He had no apparent reason why he did this.
Well, that is what Tortorella told the media before the game began. Well, it paid off after all in Game 1 as the Columbus Blue Jackets shutout the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0. The Blue Jackets stymied them all game long, but Korpisalo finished the game with 28 saves.
He was the starting goalie until he got hurt. Merzlikins was off to a rough start, but then got hot. Joonas Korpisalo started the exhibition game against the Boston Bruins before the playoffs began and this is what Tortorella is going to go with.
They lost goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky last season. Columbus is sure happy right now that they kept him because I am sure that the Vegas Golden Knights wanted Joonas Korpisalo during the expansion draft during the summer of 2017 and they could have a similar situation next summer as well.
Columbus hopes that doesn’t happen, but all they are worried about right now is getting through the playoffs this season. They still have to win two more games against Toronto to get to the round of 16.
The Blue Jackets swept the Tampa Bay Lightning (The Presidents’ Trophy winners) last season in the first-round and then lost to the Boston Bruins in the second-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in six games.
They lost Sergei Bobrovsky in the offseason to the Florida Panthers.
Korpisalo’s record this season was 19-12-5 with a .911 save percentage and a 2.60 GAA, along with two shutouts. He has played in 35 games and started in 37 of them.
Merzlikins’s record this season was 13-9-8 with a .923 save percentage and a 2.35 GAA, along with five shutouts. He started in 31 games and played in 33 of them this season.
The goaltending room is the heartbeat and the heart and soul of this hockey team though nonetheless. It is the backbone of this team though nonetheless.
Those goalies are both 26 years of age though. This is a solid goaltending room and this organization is well run from top to bottom.
They have not won a Stanley Cup in franchise history and they are looking to do so. Whether it is this season or in the immediate future, it remains to be seen. But for right now, they have a lot of work to do.
Will see what happens in Game 2 when it begins at 4 p.m. Eastern at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario. This series could very be entertaining moving forward and it will be very exciting.
What did you think of John Tortorella’s decision to go with Joonas Korpisalo over Elvins Merzlikins in Game 1? Leave a comment below.
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Follow Glenn Kaplan on Twitter @glennkaplan13.