The Toronto Maple Leafs Cannot Win the Stanley Cup With Ilya Samsonov in Net

Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Two
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Two / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

I find it hard to believe that nobody is talking about just how bad Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov is.

For the past three months, he's been glorified as the savoir of the Toronto Maple Leafs season, as he seemingly never lost a game.

After being put on waivers, for good reasons, he came back with avengeance and thanks to Auston Matthews being the best player in the league, Samsonov won the majority of games he started.

Newsflash: those wins were not because of his performance. Sure, he had a good game every now and then, but if you compare his stats to the rest of the NHL, he was below average, if not one of the worst goalies in the league.

With a .890 SV% and 3.13 GAA (stats:, it was pretty clear that Joseph Woll should have been the Game 1 starter because despite his worse record, he gave the Leafs a better chance at winning.

However, for some reason, not only did Samsonov start Game 1, but it looks like that trend will continue for the rest of the playoffs, which will probably be over in five games (maybe six? This was written ahead of Game 5).

I know that the Leafs won Game 2, but it wasn't because of Samsonov, although many praised his play. The real reason they won that game was because Matthews was the best player on the ice and put the Leafs on his back. Toronto can beat any team if Matthews plays one of the best games of his life and that's what happened in Game 2.

Woll Should Be Starting Over Samsonov

However, if Matthews isn't at his A+ level and is only an A- player, which is still an elite talent, the Leafs can't win if Samsonov is in net.

If you look back at the three goals goals the Bruins scored on Samsonov, all three were unacceptable. During the first goal, it looked like Samsonov forgot where his posts were and somehow allowed a goal to go through his right side, which should have been an easy save. As for the second goal, he allowed the juiciest rebound of all-time and wasn't ready for Jake DeBrusk in-front of the net.

Despite allowing two terrible goals, the Leafs managed to tie the game, which sparked the building in the third period. With eight minutes left, momentum felt like it was in Toronto's favour to take a 2-1 series lead, but on the next shift, Samsonov found himself in bad position once again, allowing Brad Marchand to shoot one high under the cross-bar for the game-winning goal.

I know that three goals is the magic number for the Leafs to win a hockey game, but why? Why can't they be the team that wins 2-1 or 1-0, thanks to their tremendous goaltending? Why are they always victim to great goaltending from the opposition when they should be getting it themselves?


Joseph Woll may not be the long-term solution, but he gives the Leafs a better opportunity to win than Samsonov and until he gets into a playoff game, this roster has no chance at winning this series against Boston.