Welcome back to Columbus Blue Jackets News & Rumors, on a Tuesday. This week, we discuss Elvis Merzlikins‘ run-in with a Dallas Stars’ fan from before Monday night’s game, Max Domi’s injury status, Alex Texier’s situation and more.
Merzlikins Overcomes Taunting Fan
The story of Monday’s 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars was already going to be the performance of Merzlikins. He stopped 31/32 shots to improve to 4-0 on the season. He got help from the goal posts throughout the night. The Stars hit the iron four times.
When asked postgame if he would be more thankful of the posts after a game like that, Merzlikins opened up and admitted something that happened pregame that was very disturbing. Let him tell you about it.
“I strongly believe I was expecting a shutout, because I believe in karma,” Merzlikins said. “There is some stupid people in this world. That was really bad what happened in (the) tunnel when I was walking out. There was a fan from Dallas who (taunted) me about Matiss. After the three posts that I got, I really (wholly) believed in karma and I saw that he (Kivlenieks) was really there.”
Believe it or not, Merzlikins then said he didn’t get upset at the comment. He realizes that there are just stupid people in the world. Imagine having to hear that comment and then go out and perform. Not only did he perform, he continued his amazing start to the season.
Tyler Seguin‘s shot with 2:19 left in the game was the only one to get past Merzlikins. On the season, he’s stopped 120 of 126 shots for a .952 save percentage. But he believes that both his teammates and Kivlenieks himself are there helping him out.
“There is goals where I want to go, where I want to reach. Alone, I’m not going to reach them. I need help. I need help from my teammates and I need help from Matiss. And I believe he’s going to help me and my team is helping me.”
Merzlikins has the number 80 on his mask. And his teammates have been there every step of the way. They hope that together, they will eventually get to the ultimate goal. They are off to a good start in that regard despite the stupidity of one fan.
Domi to Return Soon?
The Blue Jackets seem to be getting closer to the return of an important player. Forward Max Domi was part of the morning skate on Monday. He is on IR with a fractured rib.
Domi’s expected timeline as announced by the Blue Jackets was 2-4 weeks. Monday marked just one week from being placed on IR. But that’s an encouraging step for him for a possible return to the lineup soon.
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In order to activate Domi, the Blue Jackets will have to make a roster move as they are at the full 23-man roster. They do not play again until Friday so perhaps there’s some chance he returns for that game. His practice participation should tell us if that will happen.
What to Make of Texier’s Struggles
Texier was “demoted” to the fourth line in advance of Monday’s game. I put demoted in quotes because head coach Brad Larsen really doesn’t view them as a fourth line. But he did admit some struggles at five-on-five for Texier and he’s looking to find lines that will develop chemistry.
Larsen also said that Texier was still doing some good things despite the struggles. He netted an empty-net goal Monday to seal the win. There was a shot of assistant coach Pascal Vincent talking with Texier on the bench afterwards giving some encouragement. Texier was all smiles in that moment. That had to feel good for him.
To this point in the season, texier just hasn’t had the jump and energy you’re used to seeing from him. He went from top-line center down to bottom-six winger in a matter of a few games. He has much more to give and the Blue Jackets hope he can find his game with a different set of linemates. Putting him in a role with a little less responsibility seems like the wise thing to do for now.
Texier is an important part of this team. If he can regain his confidence and play the way he’s capable of, it gives the team a more dangerous look. It just hasn’t happened for him yet this season. We’ll see if that goal loosens him up some over the next few games.
- Gregory Hofmann scored his first NHL goal on Monday on a beautiful short-side high shot against Braden Holtby. He said the puck will be going back to Switzerland. Bally Sports Columbus reporter Dave Maetzold presented him with the puck on air during the second intermission. That was a neat moment. Hofmann was full of smiles.
- Hofmann got a promotion and played with Oliver Bjorkstrand and Jack Roslovic. They played well together in their first game as linemates. Expect this line to stay together for now.
- Sean Kuraly recorded his first Blue Jackets’ point with an assist on Zach Werenski’s third-period goal.
- Boone Jenner’s faceoff numbers this season: 61.9%. That’s fourth in the NHL as of Monday night. He has taken a huge step forward in this regard.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.