Sheldon Keefe makes tough selection for Wednesday's starting goaltender

Cody Craig
January 23, 2024  (4:08 PM)

Sheldon Keefe fielding questions in Toronto
Photo credit: NHL

After Sunday's win to close up their four-game road trip with a solid performance in Seattle, it appears that Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe has made up his mind for Wednesday's starter against a very dangerous Winnipeg Jets squad that currently leads the Central Division with 64 points.

With Ilya Samsonov putting on his best performance since his 18-save shutout against Nashville on December 9th, which was also his last win, Keefe looks poised to give the Russian goaltender the nod in consecutive games for the first time since December 9th and 11th. against the Preds and Islanders.
Now, what the team needs from Samsonov is for him to go out there Wednesday and try to string together a performance like his last one. He is being shown that the team has faith in him, by starting in consecutive games once again. It is up to Ilya to put his struggles behind him and find his rhythm once again at a consistent basis.
Martin Jones has been overworked since his callup, having played in 10 of 11 games before Samsonov's nod on Sunday, and it is possible that fatigue has set in for Jones, who is now 34 years of age.
In Jones' last five starts, he has allowed three or more goals in all of them, including 6 goals against in a 6-4 loss to Vancouver on Saturday. At this point, giving Samsonov a longer look seems like the best option to see if he can put it all together again this season after playing to a collective .919 SV% last season.
Now the ball is in Samsonov's court. Can he rise to the occasion yet again and put up his best game of the season? Or will he get shelled by a strong Jets team and resort to his previous play? Leafs Nation is certainly hoping for the former.
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Sheldon Keefe makes tough selection for Wednesday's starting goaltender

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