Ilya Samsonov leads the Maple Leafs out onto the ice
Photo credit: Maple Leafs on Twitter/X

Leafs to name Samsonov as starting goalie for Game 1 against Bruins

Published April 20, 2024 at 1:04 PM

The Toronto Maple Leafs kept their cards close to the vest on Friday following practice when head coach Sheldon Keefe refused to identify their starting goalie for Game 1 against the Boston Bruins tonight. Now, we may have our answer. it appears to be Ilya Samsonov.

The Leafs are hoping to get out to a strong start in their first round series against the Bruins, so it should come as no surprise that they're going with the guy who enjoyed the best and most consistent run of the season tonight, as Ilya Samsonov was the first goalie off the ice at the morning skate on Saturday.

Samsonov enjoyed an incredible 18-win run since January 21st, when the team welcomed him back from a bit of a hiatus following a horrendous start to the season and a trip to the waiver wire. It's crazy to look back now and think that a team like the New Jersey Devils, who were hard up for goaltending all year, could have had Samsonov for absolutely free. In the end, though, Samsonov was able to clear waivers and put in some work with Marlies goalie coach Hannu Toivonen before receiving his call-up in mid January. He hasn't looked back.

Samsonov is coming off of two rough outings against Detroit and New Jersey, during which he allowed a combined 11 goals against. Prior to that, however, Sammy was excellent for the Leafs, posting 5 straight wins. Interestingly enough, Samsonov hasn't played a game since last weekend, which means that the Leafs may be trying to replicate the turn of events that led to him coming back from his hiatus with the Marlies just before his heater.

Samsonov's season stats may not look too flashy on paper, with the 27-year-old owning a 3.13 GAA and a .890 SV%, but it is important to note the fact that his early season struggles really brought his overall numbers now. During his stretch from January 21st through April 12th, Samsonov was 18-3-1 with a .915 SV%, a 2.43 GAA and 2 shutouts.

Joseph Woll had struggled mightily against the Bruins this season, suffering a pair of 4-1 losses on March 4th and March 7th, so that might have also factored into the decision to start Samsonov for Game 1.

The puck is expected to drop tonight shortly after 8:00 p.m. ET. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to run through a wall.

April 20   |   475 answers
Leafs to name Samsonov as starting goalie for Game 1 against Bruins

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