Toronto Maple Leafs Can't Afford to Start Ilya Samsonov in Playoffs

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

Ilya Samsonov's game against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night should scare all Toronto Maple Leafs fans, as we approach the playoffs.

If Ilya Samsonov played mediocre, the Toronto Maple Leafs would have easily defeated the Devils, but instead, he was poor. The Leafs scored five goals, including one in the dying minutes to tie the game, but it wasn't enough to get the job done. This team's offense is so good, but if Samsonov plays like this in the playoffs, the season will be over in days.

I usually like to have strong takes when it comes to the goaltending position, but my views have changed on a daily basis when it comes to Samsonov.

At the beginning of the season, I was hoping for a 1A/1B tandem with Woll being the main starter, but as we approached Christmas, I was fine with the team losing him on waivers.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Should Start Woll Game 1

After being put on waivers, Samsonov eventually bounced back and seemingly won every game he stated, but I still wasn't convinced until one week ago. Then, right after I was finally on Team Samsonov, he plays a game like he did against the Devils and I'm all of a sudden scared again.

So with that being said, I need to make a final point and stick to it, so here it is. If the Leafs start Samsonov during Game 1 of the playoffs, their season will be over in the First Round, plus Woll will be the netminder by Game 3. I just don't see a world where Samsonov carries this team to multiple playoff round victories and isn't the reason why they lose.

Despite the impressive 23-7-7 record, Samsonov is still 38th in GAA (3.08 GAA) and 46th in SV % (.891 SV%). Woll doesn't technically qualify because he hasn't played enough games, but he would be 27th in GAA (2.88 GAA), and 21st in SV% (.907 SV%) amongst NHL goaltenders this year.

Woll's 12-10-1 record is obviously much worse Samsonov, and his stats aren't amazing, but they're better enough to give him the nod for Game 1, in my opinion.


The Leafs have three games left with a back-to-back to end their season, so both goaltenders are going to play at least one game each. If Samsonov has another stinker in one of those three games, I think it's a no-brainer to run with Woll. Despite the better record, Woll gives this team a better chance to win and the playoffs are only going to get harder.