Starting Samsonov Over Woll Would Be Disastrous for the Toronto Maple Leafs

New York Rangers v Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Rangers v Toronto Maple Leafs / Chris Tanouye/GettyImages

If the Toronto Maple Leafs opt to start Ilya Samsonov over Joseph Woll in the playoffs, it will be the worst decision they'd make all season.

Relying solely on a goaltender's win-loss record is a flawed approach in managing a hockey team, yet it appears the Toronto Maple Leafs may be leaning in that direction.

While Samsonov boasts an impressive 12-3-0 record in his last 15 starts, this statistic fails to capture the full picture.

Although Samsonov delivered a noteworthy shutout against the Winnipeg Jets on January 24, his performance in other games where he allowed two or fewer goals often relied heavily on the team's defensive efforts. For instance: (stats:

  • January 21st: 16 saves on 17 shots against the Seattle Kraken
  • January 24th: 32 saves on 32 shots against the Winnipeg Jets
  • January 27th: 24 saves on 26 shots against the Winnipeg Jets
  • February 13th: 14 saves on 15 shots against the St. Louis Blues
  • February 19th: 19 saves on 20 shots against the St. Louis Blues
  • March 6th: 24 saves on 25 shots against the Buffalo Sabres
  • March 9th: 29 saves on 31 shots against the Montreal Canadiens

Woll Must Start Over Samsonov in the Playoffs

While Samsonov managed to keep goals to a minimum in seven out of 15 starts, only two of those games were against playoff-bound teams. Furthermore, in three of those seven games, he faced relatively few shots, suggesting that Toronto's team defense played a significant role in securing the victories.

Despite Samsonov's recent success, his overall performance this season, as well as in previous playoffs, raises concerns. With a .887 SV% and 3.10 GAA this campaign, he ranks among the lower tier of starting goalies in the NHL. Also, can we please take a second to remember that Samsonov was put on waivers just two months ago.

Woll, on the other hand, presents a more promising future. While his 9-7-1 record may not be as impressive as Samsonov's, Woll has demonstrated the ability to shine in high-pressure situations. Notably, he has secured seven wins with 30 or more saves, a feat that underscores his potential impact on the team's success.

Though Woll's recent return from injury saw mixed results, his playoff statistics (915 SV% and 2.43 GAA in four career games), suggest a greater reliability in crucial matchups compared to Samsonov. Given the importance of goaltending in playoff scenarios, the Leafs coaching staff and organization should seriously consider Woll's small, yet impressive, track record.


With the regular season winding down, prioritizing Woll's playing time to help him regain form before the playoffs seems prudent. If the Leafs aim to make a deep postseason run, Woll should be entrusted with the starting goaltender role, rather than Samsonov, whose inconsistencies may prove costly in critical moments.