Former NHL goaltender Mike McKenna gives his Daily face-to-face Start of the goalkeeper game of the day for Saturday. January 14, 2023:
Why I love this game:
Two keepers who need to find some lasting juice. Husso is coming off his first quality game with the Red Wings in over a month: a 32-save victory Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. And Merzlikins continues to fight hard: the Blue Jackets goalkeeper has lost four consecutive games.
To monitor :
Can Husso find the extra backup? And can Merzlikins reign supreme in his wildly aggressive tendencies?
Husso was largely what Detroit was looking for for the 2022-23 NHL season. He sports a 14-8-5 record and a respectable .904 save percentage. The Finnish goalkeeper is consistent in his movements and his skating routes. And while not overly athletic or explosive, Husso is smart with his depth. He is generally square in shooting. The only concern? Extra time and penalty shootouts. Husso has lost 11 games over the past year and a half that have required extra time.
There’s no easy way to put it for Merzlikins: the season has been miserable. His .865 save percentage ranks dead last in the NHL among full-time goaltenders. And what worries me is that I haven’t seen any signs of his game adapting or improving. Merzlikins continues to stick to his guns and play well outside of the blue paint. He got chewed up on side games, where he rarely arrives on time or squared. And the Latvian goalkeeper slips into everything. Merzlikins isn’t playing with patience and hasn’t tasted victory since Dec. 11.
What fantasy owners should do:
Even though Husso’s numbers look good, he’s had a tough time lately. Against anyone but Columbus, I could seat him. But not tonight. I would start Husso. Sit Merzlikins.
Conclusion for Ville Husso:
He needs to find some extra gear if the Red Wings are to fight for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot.
Conclusion for Elvis Merzlikins:
He needs to relax.