NHL Talk: Red Wings Resurgence & Blue Jackets Goaltending

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In this edition of NHL Talk, the Detroit Red Wings end a four-game losing skid with back-to-back wins, and the future of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ goaltending situation is analyzed.

Red Wings End Four-Game Skid With Back-to-Back Wins Over Sabres

The Red Wings suffered a four-game skid, losing to the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets, before defeating the Buffalo Sabres in back-to-back games. On its winless streak, Detroit was outscored 14-5. Getting back on track with a pair of matchups against Buffalo, it outscored its opponent, 7-2.

Dylan Larkin Detroit Red Wings
Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

“What impressed me the most was their resiliency,” says THW’s Kyle Knopp on the Red Wings’ back-to-back wins. “They came back from that four-game trip that really saw them get beat up. They only scored five goals in those four games, two of them they got shut out in, and they came back a few days later… and just kind of put the beating on the Buffalo Sabres.”

The Red Wings improve to an 18-17-5 record on the season, sitting five points back of a wild card spot. Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider are among Detroit skaters having fantastic seasons. In addition, goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic has been strong in net. Overall, the Red Wings rebuild is coming together very well, and much quicker than many people expected.

“It was really important for them to get that offensive output and just show that they were able to score again,” says Knopp. “A lot of the Red Wings fans were worried they lost their scoring touch.”

While the first game between the Red Wings and Sabres ended with a one-sided 4-0 win for Detroit, the second game provided more intensity. The Red Wings fought back from a 2-0 deficit late in the game, eventually defeating Buffalo, 3-2 in overtime.

“They’re down 2-0 with about 10 minutes to go in the game… and scored shorthanded and then just put the wheels in motion to keep fighting and keep pushing and pushing and eventually got rewarded with the win in overtime,” says Knopp.

The Red Wings look to extend its win streak to three games against the Dallas Stars, at home on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Blue Jackets Could Get Clarity on Goaltending Future Soon

The Blue Jackets’ future in net has been uncertain for a while now. After Sergei Bobrovsky left for the Florida Panthers in 2019-20, goaltenders Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo have taken the reigns and proven themselves as promising NHL goaltenders. With Merzlikins signed for until the end of the 2026-27 season and Korpisalo’s contract set to expire at the end of this season, the team could get clarity on its long-term goaltending plans soon.

Elvis Merzlikins Columbus Blue Jackets
Elvis Merzlikins, Columbus Blue Jackets (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“It looks like Elvis Merzlikins will be the starter for the foreseeable future, considering he got the five-year extension before the season began,” says THW’s Mark Scheig. “And Korpisalo is a pending [unrestricted free agent]… it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when Korpisalo will be moved.”

With Korpisalo presumably on his way out of Columbus, Daniil Tarasov is expected to be the next man-up in the Blue Jackets’ backup role. Tarasov has played in four games this season, starting in three of them, recording an impressive .937 save percentage (SV%). At just 22 years old, he may be the Blue Jackets’ star goaltender of the future.

Related: NHL Talk: Canucks End Skid & Kraken Keep Falling

“Tarasov is going to come in here, maybe even as soon as later this season, and he’s going to potentially be the backup,” says Scheig. “And then if something were to happen to Elvis moving forward, I think Tarasov is a long-term answer. So, they’re set for a while. It’s just now they need to fix a lot of other things on the team. But goaltending wise, that is very much one bright spot for the Blue Jackets and a reason for their fans to be excited.”

The Blue Jackets are on the road to take on the Philadelphia Flyers, Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Merzlikins and Korpisalo continue to hold down the fort with Tarasov out on the injured reserve with a lower-body injury. When the NHL Trade Deadline comes and goes on March 21, expect more clarity in the Blue Jackets’ net going forward.

Thank you for reading this edition of NHL Talk, and make sure to listen to the THW Podcast to hear everything your favourite hockey writers have to say about the hottest topics around the league.

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