Toronto lost five of the last seven closely matched games. Until the team changes this pattern, the Maple Leafs need changes. The Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending must win the third period and keep pucks out of their net. Toronto has consistently played incredibly offensively in 2024 taking early leads and keeping games close, but this isn’t horseshoes. Sheldon Keefe is going to need someone to step up as goalie for Toronto and stand on their head.
Who is Toronto Maple Leafs Starting Goalie?
Martin Jones is expected to start in goal for Toronto against the Central Division-leading Winnipeg Jets at Scotiabank Arena. Currently, Maple Leaf starting goalie Joseph Woll is out with an ankle injury. Most likely, Jones will be covering the Leafs goaltending. Jones has plenty of experience in goal. He first joined the ranks of NHL starting goalies playing for the Los Angeles Kings in December of 2013. Martin Jones has started in 445 NHL career games with 234 wins, 169 losses, and 36 overtime losses. Jones is at a .905 career save percentage and is ranked 83rd of all NHL goalies. It makes sense to rely on the veteran goaltender in the near future.
Will Ilya Samsonov be able to Make a Difference?
Being placed on waivers over three weeks ago, Russian-born goaltender, Ilya Samsonov is working hard. The netminder focused on his game play, finally finding his way back to the lineup. Sammy helped lead the Maple Leafs to victory in a much-needed 3-1 win over the Seattle Kraken on Sunday, January 21st at Climate Pledge Arena.
Ilya Samsanov in his first win since Dec 9th:
— 16 shots against
— 17 saves
— .941 SV%
— 1.02 GAA
A step towards regaining his confidence. pic.twitter.com/FDlgc4UlBR
— Big Head Leafs (@BigHeadLeafs_) January 22, 2024
Postgame after defeating the Kraken, Samsonov was upbeat about his situation:
Huge for me huge for the team, we missed a couple games in the third period, I forgot about this and moving forward (Ilya Samsonov January 21, 2024).
The team knows Ilya Samsonov has what it takes to get Toronto on a hot streak in the second half of the season. Samsonov proved this ability to the league by winning his first 11 games with the Washington Capitals, as the third NHL rookie goalie to win his first eleven games since 1973–74. After his last game, he showed confidence and focus.
Leafs Goaltending Standing Tall in the Games Ahead
Everyone is familiar with the dangerous Maple Leaf offensive highlights of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander. The team will need more than offence to make it to the top of the Atlantic Division. Leafs captain John Tavares is a leading example of the type of team play needed to keep the puck in control, up ice, and out of their own net. Defensively Morgan Rielly, Simon Benoit, and Jake McCabe have been able to step up their game play on the latest road trip. The Maple Leafs will continue to rely on third-period good fortune from whoever is placed between the pipes, in addition to needing more depth on defence.
Main Photo Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports