Eastern Edge: Nedeljkovic, Bobrovsky, and Merzlikins
In this week's Eastern Edge, we'll discuss goaltending situations in Columbus, Detroit and Florida. Anyone wanting to go back for previous editions of Eastern Edge, just click here. We have discussed Tage Thompson, Dawson Mercer, Thomas Chabot, Chris Kreider, and a whole lot more in recent weeks.
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In previous years, Columbus' goaltending situation featured a split between Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo. However, Merzlikins strengthened his claim on the starting role this past offseason when he signed a five-year contract extension. He's solidified his role as the starter this year, thoroughly outplaying Korpisalo.
Heading into the season, I think most saw Merzlikins as a good goalie on a bad team. Such a belief comes with an expectation for a strong save percentage and goals against average, but also an understanding that wins will be hard to come by. Evidently, Merzlikins didn't get that memo as only 10 goalies across the league have registered more wins than the Latvian this season. His success hasn't necessarily been a product of the team's defense, with Columbus allowing the fifth-most high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes (NaturalStatTrick). Fortunately, he's been up to the task, owning the best 5-on-5 high danger save percentage among goalies who have played at least 10 games. The team's defense may not be fueling his success, but Columbus' offense certainly deserves some credit. Over the past couple of seasons, the Blue Jackets have struggled to score. But this year, their offense sits 11th in the league, averaging 3.22 goals per game. Merzlikins i