Kick Save and a Beauty: McElhinney Shines

It was his best performance of the season and possibly the best of his Blue Jackets career.

Curtis McElhinney has had a lot thrown at him the season because of Sergei Bobrovsky’s finger injury. The 31-year old veteran has registered 485 minutes of ice time as both a starter and in relief in nine games and while the team has struggled as a whole, his numbers have not been spectacular.

Prior to his start against Nashville, McElhinney had compiled a 1-6-1 record as a starter, allowing 3.46 goals per game off a save percentage of .897. In three of those games, McElhinney allowed four or more shots reach the back of the net. Among goaltenders with at least nine games played, McElhinney ranks 41st of 43 in the goals against category. He and Anton Forsberg alternated starts in Bobrovsky’s absence.

Bobrovsky returned to action Nov. 15 against San Jose and last night’s game marked McElhinney’s first game play over two weeks. Nashville is the western conference’s premier club; a tall older for a back-up getting the start to give the starter some rest. Though Nashville averages a pedestrian 2.67 goals per contest, the Predators peppered Mac with 42 shots; he stopped 40 of them. The Jackets fell 2-1, but McElhinney looked sharp, quick and resilient against one of the league’s finest teams.

Kick save and a beauty


McElhinney made three high quality saves on this power play, but this one stuck out. Roman Josi’s shot from the point hits McElhinney in the chest, luckily so with Colin Wilson setting a good screen, but McElhinney is unable to contain the rebound. Wilson fires off the backhanded shot as he tumbles, but McElhinney gives him the right blocker and covers up quickly. That save required quick reaction time, flexibility and the wherewithal to prevent a third rebound opportunity.

Wilson denied again

This play is set up by a Jordan Leopold turnover along the boards; a Leopold turnover would also set up Wilson’s game-winning goal, so he would get the last laugh. Back to the end of the first, Wilson makes a nice move to evade David Savard’s poke check as McElhinney has to address both Wilson and Craig Smith. McElhinney sticks with Wilson, denying his attempt with the blocker hard enough that Smith does not even have the opportunity to bury the rebound as the period expired.

Breakaway opportunity

We swear we don’t have a vendetta against Colin Wilson; he just had a tough time against McElhinney last night. Dalton Prout lets a Nashville clearance attempt scoot by him and Wilson is there to take advantage of the clean look at the net. Wilson comes in at a sharp angle, not leaving a lot of room to lift the shot stick-side. Knowing the shot was likely to come low, McElhinney closed the five-hole quickly and denied Wilson’s breakaway chance.