A Stretch Run Checklist For the Toronto Maple Leafs

With a little over a month to go in the NHL regular season and less than twenty games, the Toronto Maple Leafs have time to get their house in order before the Stanley Cup playoffs.

New York Rangers v Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Rangers v Toronto Maple Leafs / Chris Tanouye/GettyImages
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The Toronto Maple Leafs Must Choose a Number-One Goaltender

The redemptive story of Ilya Samsonov is one of the underrated highlights of the Leafs season.

He started the year as the Leafs number-one netminder, played terribly, lost his job, and was demoted to the Marlies. He cleared waivers. Some wondered if he would play another game in a Leafs uniform or the NHL.

After a mental reprieve with the Toronto Marlies, he regained his starting form. The early-season boo-birds turned to highlight-reel saves that had the Scotiabank crowd chanting his name.

The terrific early-season play of Joseph Woll offset Samsonov's struggles. He wrestled away the starting goaltender job until an unfortunate injury against the Ottawa Senators.

Since returning from the injury Woll's play has been subpar compared to his early-year form. He was out of action for many weeks, so the regression in his play is not surprising.

Over the final month, Woll must be given ample opportunity to regain his pre-injury form. Keefe must ensure that he plays enough to sharpen his game, while also being mindful of his health.

Ideally, both goalies take part in close to an even number of games down the stretch and the competition elevates the play of each of them.

Right now, Samsonov has earned the right to start game one of the playoffs, however, the Leafs started Joseph Woll in both games against Boston last week, which suggest that they prefer him as their starter.