For the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Time to Give the Crease to Joseph Woll Is Now

Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers
Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs are down 2-1 in their series against the Boston Bruins.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have played well so far, but goaltending and special teams have let them down.

Specifically, Ilya Samsonov has let the team down. He was solid in game two, no doubt, but in games one and three he was very, very average.

Look, it's not like he's stinking up the joint and is the sole reason they are losing, but he's not helping. The guy was on waivers earlier in the year and it was always a ridiculous idea to play him in the playoffs.

I advocated this idea dozens of times in this very space, and that doesn't even count all the times I criticized the team for not trading for a goalie at the playoffs - and really, who cares what I think, but I'm pointing this out because I want to make clear that it's an obvious problem the team has been dealing with for months.

For the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Time to Give the Crease to Joseph Woll Is Now

So far in the series, the 5v5 goals are even at 5-5. The Leafs have 54% of the puck-possession, 55% of the shots, 62% of the scoring chances, 61% of the dangerous scoring chances, and 55% of the expected goals. (stats

Those are incredible numbers in a series where you start on the road against a favored opponent. They are even more incredible if you're playing without your second-best forward (superstar William Nylander).

But they are an indictment of the goaltending and special teams.

The Leafs save percentage at 5v5 is 2 percentage points lower than Bostons.

The overall save percentage of the Bruins in all situation is 94% while the Leafs are at 87%.

I realize the power-play has been brutal, but Boston's goalies are at least partially responsible for that. The Leafs on the other hand are letting in goals on 50% of their penalty kills, something that Samsov is heavily responsible for.

Joseph Woll was the correct choice to start the Playoffs, and the Leafs should have went to him for game two, and again in game three. Now they have no choice.

They must play Woll in game four and in every subsequent game after that. They didn't want to re-sign Samsonov (took him to arbitration) and they even put him on waivers. They came into the season with Joseph Woll as their top organization prospect, and he outplayed Samsonov all season when he was healthy.

You'd think a team that wasn't interested in upgrading for the playoffs would be interested in at least getting their goalie of the future some ice-time and playoff experience, but I honestly stopped trying to guess what these guys were thinking when they signed Ryan Reaves, so I don't pretend to know.


All I do know is that there has never been a more obvious coaching decision in the history of pro sports. Starting Joseph Woll from here on out is not just required, it's mandatory.