Toronto Maple Leafs fans are going to be watching Ilya Samsonov closely tonight. He’s been given the net in the last game of the Maple Leafs five-game road trip against the Nashville Predators.
Samsonov has sitting recently because of his rocky start. Against the Tampa Bay Lightning on October 21, he gave up three goals on just four shots and was pulled before many Lightning fans had a chance to make it to their seats for the start of the game.
His statistics were a daunting 13.85 goals-against average and a .250 save percentage. Not good enough, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe noted.
Fortunately the Maple Leafs Had Joseph Woll
Joseph Woll jumped in, saved that game, and then had two other really solid performances in his next two games. He’s to my way of thinking done enough to wrestle the staring goalie’s job away from Samsonov. Now the Russian goalie needs to earn his way back. Is he capable of delivering a solid performance in the upcoming clash with Nashville? I believe he can and will.
Sure, his early-season stats have raised some concerns. However, as my writing colleague Stan Smith noted to me yesterday, fans just need a deeper look into his past performances and career averages. They are a better indicator than his past game about the kind of goalie Samsonov has been and the potential he has to offer the team a reliable and stable presence in the crease.
The Maple Leafs Are Going for Their Fourth Straight Win Tonight
As the Maple Leafs aim for their fourth consecutive win, fans are keeping their eyes on Samsonov. He will be striving to reestablish himself as a dependable goalie for the Maple Leafs.
I expect him to step up and have a solid game against the Predators. He has a strong track record in the net and was one of the NHL’s best goalies last season. Watch for him to re-emerge again this season. If he does, things should be looking good for the Maple Leafs and their road into the postseason.
The team would do so much better if it had two solid goalies rather than just one.