Upcoming night at 3:00 Latvian time their first match after the National Hockey League (NHL) The resumption of the season will be followed by the Columbia “Blue Jackets” represented by the Latvian hockey goalkeeper Elvis Merzlikkin, who will face the Toronto Maple “Leafs” in the series up to three victories in the “play-in” round.
It was already reported that the day before yesterday, Columbus had the only test game before the resumption of the championship, in which the best team of the season “Boston Bruins” was beaten. Elvis Merzļikins entered the goal in the middle of the second third, replacing Jonas Korpisalo in the team’s fortress, and repelled 12 of 13 opponents’ shots or 92.3% of the show. The Finnish competitor, in turn, protected his goal intact, repelling all 11 opponents’ shots.
Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella revealed that the game against the Bruins was the last chance to make a good impression and earn the role of the first goalkeeper in the upcoming playoff series. It is not yet clear to the club which goalkeeper – Merzlikkin or Jonas Korpisalo – will be the first number in the playoffs against Maple Leafs, but it should be known today.
This season Merzlikkin made his debut in the NHL. In 33 matches, he helped the Blue Jackets achieve 13 successes, repelling 92.3% of throws and scoring an average of 2.35 goals. The goalkeeper also has five dry games. During the break caused by the coronavirus Covid-19, he signed a new two-year contract with the team for eight million dollars.
On the eve of the playoffs, Elvis is the fifth puck catcher in the league by the percentage of rebounds (92.3%) and the average number of goals conceded (2.35) between goalkeepers who have played at least 20 matches. Merzlikkin’s five “dry” games are also the second best in the league. As a result, in a recent NHL journalist vote, the Latvian was named the league’s fourth best debutant.
During the season, several Columbus leaders fought injuries, but the team benefited from the break, as it will start the playoffs in the strongest line-up – in the “Play-in” round against Toronto Square will be ready ankle surgery leader Seth Jones, as well as attack leader Kems Atkinson (12 + 14), Oliver Bjorkstrand (21 + 15) and Alexander Texier (6 + 17).
In this playoff series, Toronto is named as a nominal favorite, whose trump card will be a stunning attack, as the Maple Leafs are the third most offensive team in the league with an average of 3.39 goals per game. Toronto’s biggest star and attack leader is the first number of the 2016 draft, Oston Matthew (47 + 33), while the second best goal scorer in the team is Matthew’s first-shift member William Nielander (31 + 28). Club captain John Tavaress (26 +34) and time leader Mitch Marner (16 + 51) will also play an equally important role.
The leader of the “Blue Jackets” in the points scored is the first center striker Luke Dibou (18 + 31), while Oliver Bjorkstrand (21 + 15) has scored the most goals in the season. Team captain Nick Foligno (10 + 21) with 212 strength techniques is the seventh best hockey player in the league in this indicator.
During the season, the Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs met twice, playing both matches in October 2019. In the first game, Toronto celebrated the victory with the result 4: 1, while in the second match, the Columbus team turned out better, beating the opponent with the result 4: 3. Merzlikkin did not score in any of these matches.
In mid-March, the coronavirus Covid-19 began to spread rapidly around the world, so the NHL quickly decided to suspend the championship. The league’s management decided to close the regular tournament and give 24 teams the opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup. Four of the best teams from each East and West immediately qualified for the quarterfinals of the conference, while another 16 clubs, divided into eight pairs, will play eight tickets to the “play-off”.