Elvis Merzlikins advanced a bold goal lately: to be more than just a funny name. He is
leaving opponents all shook up absolutely red-hot for the Columbus Blue Jackets right now.
absolutely hound-dogged shut out the New Jersey Devils in Columbus’ 5-0 on Saturday, and that 41-save performance was far from his first standout evening. Merzlikins generated three shutouts in his last four games, allowing just two goals overall. The Blue Jackets won all four of those games.
(OK, this post includes enough cheesy Elvis jokes … arguably.)
During seven appearances between October and November, the 25-year-old goalie languished with sub-.900 save percentages. Since then, he’s started to take off.
Some “too perfect” moments for Elvis Merzlikins and the Blue Jackets
Maybe Merzlikins made a New Year’s Eve resolution to dominate? Perhaps it was because Elvis asked reporters to leave him alone? Merzlikins suffered only two losses since Dec. 31, winning eight of 10 games.
The lights-out play already makes the story endearing, but there are notes of the surreal. Consider a few facts about his hot streak:
- Merzlikins grabbed his first NHL win on Dec. 31 against Sergei Bobrovsky and the Panthers.
- Even John Tortorella joked about Elvis managing his first shutout in … you guessed it, Vegas. Torts praised Merzlikins’ ability to roll with the punches, as Columbus had been reeling with injuries.
“That’s what you like about him. He’s strong mentally,” Tortorella said after the Jan. 11 Vegas shutout, via Rob Mixer of First Ohio Battery. “He’s a piece of work as far as his personality, which I like. A lot of things have been thrown at him here…but he’s handled himself really well. I’m happy for him.”
- Merzlikins ended up making it back-to-back shutouts, as he also blanked the Bruins with a 34-save shutout. His three shutouts have upped the ante each time: first 27 saves, then 34, then 41 against the Devils on Saturday.
Tortorella deserves ample credit for creating a cocoon for his goalies, of course.
CBJ has figured out how to survive and it's impressive to see Torts working a system that suits this group so well. pic.twitter.com/vqKSrQ6Ryq
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) January 18, 2020
Regardless, Merzlikins is playing a big role in helping the Blue Jackets stay in the East wild-card races. Here’s hoping that our jokes rise up the charts or we might just need to leave the building.
(Sorry. I’m so, so sorry.)