Elvis Merzlikins Has to Keep His Emotions in Check for the Blue Jackets

The young Blue Jackets need their goaltending to be at its best to have a chance to win on any given night. Elvis Merzlikins is at his best when he just stops pucks. He has to find a way to keep his emotions in check.

Mar 12, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins (90) looks on
Mar 12, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins (90) looks on / David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
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Elvis was stewing over a play that happens all the time.

You could see in his body language that he was upset. As the game went to a TV timeout and came back, you knew he was still shaken up by it. The very next shot he faced, went clean by him. Look at his reaction after the goal is scored:

That's not the kind of body language that builds confidence from your starting goaltender. With such a young, inexperienced team, they need him to play calm and at ease, if nothing else to keep the team relaxed.

Not surprisingly, the team deflated after this goal, and went on to lose this game by a 6-1 score. Again, I didn't expect them to go out and beat this team. But I do feel like they could have kept it closer.

Working at an extreme hypothetical here: what kind of reaction would we expect in a game that actually matters?

Paint the picture like this: the Jackets head onto the road in a playoff series that's tied 2-2. Early in the third period of a 2-1 game, someone bumps Elvis. If he reacts like he did last night, it's very easy to see how it could cost this team an entire playoff series.

I'm rooting hard for Elvis to succeed, and as a Blue Jacket. He needs to keep his emotions in check and just play his position. Let Erik Gudbranson or Mathieu Olivier do the talking. Just stop pucks.

We knew we were getting a fiery personality well before Elvis came over. But at this point in his career - to rejuvenate his career - keeping his emotions in check is crucial to his success. Which, in turn, is crucial to the success of the Columbus Blue Jackets.