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Season Review: Joonas Korpisalo
By: Nolan Graley
The Columbus Blue Jackets had to endure another disappointing season, falling well short of a playoff spot and finishing last in the Metropolitan division. Part of the disappointing season was the injuries that plagued starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky going down and the rather ineffectiveness of backup Curtis McElhinney left the CBJ with few options. Columbus dug into their Calder Cup caliber backup in the Lake Erie Monsters and called up rookie Joonas Korpisalo. Korpisalo would play a terrific rookie season, turning heads not only in Columbus but also across the entire league. Allow us to break down Korpisalo’s rookie season for you and show you why he can be the future in central Ohio.
Season Grade – A
Joonas Korpisalo was a rookie goaltender on a team that finished 27th out of 30 in the NHL. Yet, Korpisalo’s play was actually one of the brightest spots of the season for the Blue Jackets. Joonas finished the season playing 31 games, only 6 behind starter Sergei Bobrovsky and 13 more than veteran backup Curtis McElhinney, and ended the season with more wins than either (16, Bobrovsky had 15). If the wins doesn’t prove that Korpisalo is ready for the big time, look at the stats themselves. Korpisalo finished the season with an incredible .920 save percentage, while Bobrovsky ended his campaign with a .908. Not only that, but Joonas also attained a Goals Against Average of 2.60, while Bobrovsky finished with a 2.75. And while I don’t quite believe Korpisalo is ready to take the reigns of starting goaltender away from Bobrovsky, it is interesting to see how the rookie’s stats match up against the former Vezina trophy winner’s. Another stat to match up? Bobrovsky finished the season with 19 losses in regulation, while Korpisalo only managed to 11 get past him in the 3 regulation periods. And while Korpisalo did lose more games in OT than Sergei Bobrovsky did (4 to Bobrovsky’s 1), that still doesn’t close the gap of playing only 6 less games than his experienced counterpart. Korpisalo, in my opinion, has earned the right to be the backup in Columbus. I don’t believe he is ready to be the starter yet, however. It’s very much like the situation with Martin Jones, the current netminder of the Stanley Cup contending San Jose Sharks. Once the backup to 2x Cup Champion and former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick, Jones was traded (twice) last off-season to at first the Boston Bruins before finally landing in San Jose. Jones has been arguably the most valuable player to the Sharks in their run to the Stanley Cup, but he NEEDED that experience backing up Quick before he could become the goaltender he is now. And the same applies to Joonas Korpisalo. Korpisalo will at first need to be the backup to a proven veteran before emerging as a star on his own. But Korpisalo has already proven he has what it takes to be a starter at the NHL level. And now the future looks great right now in the net for the C! B! J!
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