Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins of Riga, Latvia was named the National Hockey League’s first star of the week from February 3-9, 2019 according to the Canadian Press. Merzlikins played three games, had two wins, two shutouts, a goals against average of 0.67 and a save percentage of .971.
Merzlikins began the week with a 32 save shutout in a 1-0 Blue Jackets win over the Florida Panthers at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH on February 4. In this contest, Merzlikins was perfect throughout the 60 minutes of regulation and the first minute and 54 seconds into overtime as Zach Werenski of Grasse Pointe, MI broke a 0-0 deadlock in the extra period.
In Merzlikins’s second game of the week, he picked up another home shutout. This time Merzlikins made 16 saves as Columbus blanked the Detroit Red Wings 2-0 on February 7. Then on February 8, Merzlikins played the second game of a back-to-back for Columbus, and made 20 saves in a 2-1 Columbus loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
Merzlikins has a record of 12 wins, seven regulation losses and five overtime losses in 2019-20. In 26 games (24 starts), Merzlikins has five NHL shutouts, a goals against average of 2.19 and save percentage of .930. He currently leads the NHL in shutouts and save percentage, making him one of the very best netminders in the entire NHL at the moment.
There is no doubt that Merzlikins has been one of the best players in the NHL since the turn of the calendar year. Merzlikins has five shutouts in his last 10 games and during that stretch has only given up a total of 12 goals.
When Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo of Pori, Finland comes back from his knee surgery, Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella will have a difficult decision to make. Merzlikins has been that spectacular since Korpisalo’s injury.
Columbus is in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 30 wins, 17 regulation losses and 10 losses in extra time for 70 points. They have three more points than the Carolina Hurricanes for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.