Waiting Until Game 5 to Start Joseph Woll Was a Fireable Offense

Toronto Maple Leafs v Carolina Hurricanes
Toronto Maple Leafs v Carolina Hurricanes / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages

It took five games, but the Toronto Maple Leafs finally gave themselves a chance in this series when they started goaltender Joseph Woll in game five.

For the past month, I’ve been screaming at the Toronto Maple Leafs organization to start Joseh Woll over Ilya Samsonov. Despite having more experience and displaying a better win/loss record, Samsonov was never going to give the Leafs a better chance to win over Woll.

Samsonov’s win/loss record was one of the luckiest things throughout the Leafs season and although he did look better than he had prior to being put on waivers, it always felt like Woll’s demeanor would translate better than Samsonov’s in the playoffs.

At one point in the season, Samsonov thought that his career could be finished, while Woll said that he’s “having the time of his life” after the Game 5 victory. Every team wants their starting goaltender to be the most chill player on the team and that’s exactly what Woll is showing right now, which makes me believe that this team has a chance at winning the series. (Now, clearly this was written ahead of last night's game, but win or lose, the Leafs clearly should have made this move two weeks ago).

Leafs Should Have Started Woll in Game 1

Personally, I could never understand the argument between Samsonov vs. Woll and always believed that Woll gave this team a better chance at winning.

In three career playoff starts, Woll has now stopped 91 of 96 shots, which represents a .947 SV% and seemingly looked relaxed on every shift. He’s rarely out of position and seems like a calming influence that is needed, especially since the team’s defense isn’t great.

For the past two decades, the Leafs have been searching for a true number-one goalie and Woll truly feels like the answer. The fact that Keefe didn’t see this and decided to start a goalie who any team could have had for free in January, makes me realize that he shouldn’t be the coach of this team.

You could argue that he fixed his mistake by finally starting him in Game 5, but it may be too little too late. If Woll starts Game 1, we could be looking at the Leafs being up 3-2 instead of the opposite, as I really think he’s the biggest difference-maker in this series.


It’s quite possible that this was a one-off and Toronto’ season ended last night, but I can’t see it being because of Woll. He’s given the Leafs a real chance at coming back from the grave and if the Leafs have a shot at the second round, he's the main reason.