Ilya Samsonov breaks his silence, speaks out about his awful play this season

Ryan Smitheram
December 31, 2023  (10:54)

Ilya Samsonov is really fighting it right now
Photo credit: NHL

For the second time in as many starts against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday, Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov was less than adequate, giving up 6 goals on 21 shots. It was another 6-5 overtime loss to the lowly Blue Jackets and one that prompted head coach Sheldon Keefe to blast his former number one and subtly plead with GM Brad Treliving to scour the trade market for a goalie.

Following the loss, Samsonov became the second worst goalie in the league with at least 10 starts in terms of save percentage. Of the 60 goalies with 10 or more starts, Samsonov's .862 save percentage has him ranked 59th. He also now ranks dead last in the league for goals saved above expected by a large margin at a -16. Following the loss, Samsonov had this to say about his performance recently.
"The last three games, I didn't see a lot of luck... It's easy to put your head down and just cry and be sad. I'm sad about this, but I need to continue to work. Maybe next game, maybe next three games, the luck is back. Tough game for me, bad result. I don't know, a lot of emotion right now after the game. I need to prepare for the next game, this game's over. If you start thinking too much, it's probably worse. It's (my) first game after Christmas break, just head up, continue to move."

For Samsonov, it is surprising that with how bad he has played through 15 games that he has just 2 regulation losses. He has a 5-2-6 record with two games, both against the Tampa Bay Lightning that resulted in no decisions after he was pulled and replaced by Joseph Woll in each. The Leafs have three sets of back-to-back games in January, beginning in California against the LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks Tuesday and Wednesday. The Leafs likely won't be able to acquire another goalie in time for that set of games, so unless they give Dennis Hildeby a spot start, we will likely see Samsonov play in one of those two games.
Hopefully, if he plays against Anaheim, it will be the beginning of a confidence boost for him. Unfortunately, given how bad the Leafs play against bottom feeder teams, it may be a tough ask for the pending UFA.
Ilya Samsonov breaks his silence, speaks out about his awful play this season

Should the Leafs give Samsonov the start on Tuesday against the Kings or Wednesday against he Ducks?

Kings394.2 %
Ducks899.5 %
Neither80486.3 %
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