McKenna Match of the Day: March 26 – Marc-André Fleury vs. Elvis Merzlikins
Former NHL goaltender Mike McKenna offers his daily starting goaltender game of the day for Saturday. March 26, 2022:
Why I love this game:
Reigning Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s top goaltender, Marc-André Fleury, makes his debut for the Minnesota Wild. All eyes are on « Flower ».
To monitor :
Story. Fleury is playing for his third team in less than a calendar year. Although Fleury was promised by Vegas owner Bill Foley that he would end his career as a Golden Knight, the team sent him packing last offseason to the Chicago Blackhawks. The three-time Stanley Cup winner showed up in Windy City and produced 19 of the Blackhawks’ first 22 wins of the season, including four by shutout. He beat the Wild in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup first round last year and now joins Minnesota in pursuit of a fourth Stanley Cup. Fleury has the ability to single-handedly steal games with a smile on his face.
I can’t remember the last time an NHL goaltender had a winning record with a 3.40 goals-against average, but Elvis Merzlikins continues to defy the odds in front of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He’s 22-15-4 this season behind an incredibly loose defense. Columbus is giving up 35.4 shots against per game – the most in the NHL. I think Merzlikins has matured a lot since his debut in 2019: big emotional swings have largely been eliminated.
What fantasy owners should do:
Fleury has a knack for big games and the Wild have been moving in the right direction lately. Fantasy owners should start Fleury. Columbus lost 4-3 in overtime to the Winnipeg Jets last night. The Blue Jackets are giving up a ton of shots. If your team needs this category, run Merzlikins. Otherwise, leave it on the bench.
Conclusion for Marc-André Fleury:
Usually first impressions are so important. But everyone in the hockey world knows what « Flower » is capable of. Go ahead and have fun.
Conclusion for Elvis Merzlikins:
It’s the second game in a straight travel streak – Merzlikins need to get their team through the first half, either tied or ahead. This game could quickly slip away from the Blue Jackets if the Wild scores early.