Ilya Samsonov putting in the work at practice
Photo credit: NHL

Ilya Samsonov earns some major brownie points with Sheldon Keefe over latest actions

Published February 4, 2024 at 7:13 PM

Ilya Samsonov appears to be well and truly back to his old self. The 26-year-old Magnitogorsk native had an absolutely horrendous start to the season brought on by what can only be described as a crisis of confidence.

From October to December, Samsonov was unplayable. His starting job was lost to rookie netminder Joseph Woll. When Woll was injured, third stringer Martin Jones stepped in and throroughly outplayed Samsonov, leapfrogging him to take the starter's net.

After clearing waivers and spending some time with the Marlies getting both his game and his mental health back on track, Samsonov has been excellent. Since returning to the Leafs, Samsonov has allowed just 6 goals in 4 games, including a shutout performance against the Central Division leading Winnipeg Jets. It was almost a foregone conclusion that he would get the start against the New York Islanders on Monday as the Leafs finish their All-Star break and bye week, but Samsonov went above and beyond to make sure that he will be the one to start with his tremendous attitude and work ethic.

According to Sheldon Keefe, Samsonov cut his vacation in Cancun short in order to get back on the ice early. Given the miserable, cold and rainy weather in Toronto right now, that's a big sacrifice compared to sitting on a beach for a couple of extra days! Samsonov's commitment made an impact on Keefe, who felt that he was left with no choice but to give Samsonov his well deserved start.

February 4   |   1229 answers
Ilya Samsonov earns some major brownie points with Sheldon Keefe over latest actions

Who will start Game 1 of the playoffs for the Leafs?

Samsonov63851.9 %
Woll54244.1 %
Jones494 %
Someone else00 %
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