Martin Jones preparing for his start against the Sharks on January 9th
Photo credit: NHL

Leafs sending a clear message with starting goalie announcement

Published January 11, 2024 at 8:54

Sheldon Keefe has never shied away from making controversial decisions before tough games, especially with the cards he is always dealt by Leafs management.

As we all know, Ilya Samsonov is back with the big club until further notice. Was a week away long enough for him to get back on track? That remains to be seen. Something we do know is that he will be the Maple Leafs' backup Thursday night in Long Island against the New York Islanders, with the red hot Martin Jones drawing the start.

One of the most important reasons behind the surprising Samsonov recall is sending Dennis Hildeby back to the Toronto Marlies so he can get back into some games. The rookie goaltender has been riding the pine since his recall nine days ago and is likely to play his first game on Friday in almost two weeks. As Keefe stated during his media availability yesterday, this is mostly about getting Hildeby back playing games to avoid having him lose his rhythm.

Samsonov was back at Leafs practice today, but the main focus was for him to work with goaltending coach Curtis Sanford alongside his goaltending partner Martin Jones.

Is it me, or does this seem like Sheldon Keefe is sending a message to Ilya Samsonov? The Leafs are essentially running Martin Jones until the wheels fall off when they have a perfectly healthy Samsonov to lean on and Keefe is still opting to start Jones instead of resting him before the back-to-back this weekend. It almost seems like Keefe is telling Samsonov that he doesn't trust him yet.

At any rate, with Samsonov back with the Maple Leafs for the time being, and Toronto playing in three games in four nights, which includes a back-to-back, do you think Samsonov will start one of those games? Let us know in the poll below!
January 11   |   854 answers
Leafs sending a clear message with starting goalie announcement

Which upcoming Leafs game would you start Ilya Samsonov in?

Saturday against Colorado607 %
Sunday against Detroit25129.4 %
I would sit him for both, to be honest54363.6 %
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