Have the Blue Jackets Found their Goaltender, or is it a Mirage?

The Blue Jackets lost in Montreal on Tuesday night, after giving up 3 goals on 4 shots in the first 5:48 of the game. My big takeaway: one CBJ goaltender looked really shaky. The other looked really good.

Mar 12, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins (90) skates back
Mar 12, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins (90) skates back / David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
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Over his last 7 games played (6 starts), Tarasov has faced 236 shots; surrendering 14 goals in that time. That's a .941 save percentage. The team has a 3-3-0 record in those six starts.

Those numbers are very encouraging. But, let's not forget that hockey is a team game, and a goaltender's numbers often reflect the team in front of them. For these reasons, we have to compare Tarasov to Merzlikins over a similar time period.

Let's compare Elvis from January 30 until now. In 9 appearances over that stretch (8 starts), Elvis faced 225 shots. He gave up 22 goals in that span; which gives us a .902 save percentage. He did pick up the team's lone shutout of the season over that stretch as well.

It's also worth noting that he did relieve Tarasov briefly on February 21st in Anaheim, where he gave up 2 goals on 2 shots to a Ducks team that had all the momentum. Really, it was hard to fault Elvis too much there.

I would argue that this was the case last night, as well. The hard truth of last night's loss was that the Jackets didn't come out ready to play. Their defense was awful at the start of the game - just look at where the defense pair is when the Canadiens scored their first goal:

That's not a good situation for any goaltender to be left in. Both Adam Boqvist and Zach Werenski were behind the net when that puck reached the slot. Can't blame the goalie for that one. But, let's ask some hard questions here.