Ilya Samsonov taking warmups before a game
Photo credit: NHL

Keefe shares surprising view on Ilya Samsonov's first game back

Published January 16, 2024 at 8:52
BY RYAN SMITHERAM

Heading into Sunday's game against the Detroit Red Wings, it had been 16 days since Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov had played in a game. It had also been two weeks since he was placed on waivers before spending 10 days with the development staff and practicimg with the Toronto Marlies.

While the Leafs ended up falling 4-2 in Samsonov's return, Samsonov was confident in his movement and reading of plays and even garnered "Sam-my, Sam-my" chants from the Toronto faithful following a ridiculous glove save late in the third.

Following the game, Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe had nothing but praise for Samsonov's efforts in his return.

"I thought he battled his ass off. It was the best I thought he looked all season. He's done the work. You gotta give him a chance to get back in and see if that made any sort of progress. This is a positive step forward. Obviously, a disappointing result."



From how Keefe felt about Samsonov's play at the end of December to how he felt following Sunday's loss, it is certainly a good sign for Samsonov.

After Martin Jones played seven straight games for the Leafs, he got a well-deserved night off on the second half of a back-to-back to make way for Samsonov's return. With the Leafs heading out West for four games, they will need Samsonov to build on his return and help snap the three-game losing streak they are currently on.

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January 16   |   957 answers
Keefe shares surprising view on Ilya Samsonov's first game back

How many games will Ilya Samsonov start on the Leafs' 4-game road trip?

He'll only get 1 start67370.3 %
2 for Jones, 2 for Sammy23524.6 %
Give Sammy 3 of the 4 to help him get going495.1 %
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