March 16, 2023, 00:01
TORONTO – One month after the most important week of the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, a well-recognized query lingers as they start their seek for redemption within the first spherical.
Sport 1, beneath the lights, extra stress on the shoulders of those Leafs – who’s on the web?
After years of working within the postseason with a high-flying offense tormented by defensive points, goaltending points and killer intuition points, the Leafs head into the ultimate stretch of the 2022-23 marketing campaign. With 80 % of the season within the bag, the query of the place the goal will probably be, someway, stays unanswered.
In a single nook is two-time champion Matt Murray, who was signed to assert the function. However, there’s Ilya Samsonov, who proved Wednesday evening that he’s the clear reply for the Maple Leafs this time round.
“I believed it was nice,” Austen Matthews stated of Samsono from the bowels of Scotiabank Area after a quick change with the defending champions that resulted in a 2-1 loss on penalties. “He made some nice saves for us and stored us within the recreation. After we allowed breakaways, the unusual rhythm, stood out.
“He did all the pieces he needed to do. It’s a type of video games that may go both means.”
It might be onerous accountable Samsono for not going Toronto’s means tonight, particularly given the character of the 2 photographs that hit him.
Within the first opening body of 14 minutes, on a proper hand, a cross from Mikko Rantanen, as Leafs defenseman Jake McCabe tried to disrupt the taking pictures lane, the puck modified lanes unexpectedly and moved all 5 holes. Samsonov was able to parry a one-shot effort on the far submit.
One other got here after 45 minutes, when Nathan MacKinnon, with among the quickest arms and one of many least predictable assaults within the recreation, went one-on-one on Samsonov within the shootout.
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McKinnon did what he often does, his abilities, the one taking pictures try transformed by both staff within the contest, completed off the evening.
The Maple Leafs transfer by one level, not less than, extra for Samsono than anybody else in blue and white.
On an evening that noticed the Avs repeatedly inhabit the Toronto zone, Samsono’s staff gave up 5 man-advantage alternatives to Colorado’s deadly prime unit from the opening interval till additional time. Together with his Leafs ending with the bottom shot complete of any recreation this season (18), giving the opposition few possibilities alongside the way in which, it was Samsonov who stored them in rivalry.
“I believed I used to be locked up,” head coach Sheldon Keefe stated after the ultimate buzzer rang. However no matter we gave up, within the slot or no matter, it was completed. He seemed actually athletic and dynamic with among the saves he did together with his arms. I believed he was nice.
“In a recreation the place the goalkeeper didn’t get many alternatives to shine, I believed he was nonetheless a standout for us.”
The netminder’s greatest second got here late within the third, when Rantanen went to the wall and located Makar in acres of area, an echo of the state of affairs that noticed Rielly’s rely first. With the sport on and the Leafs enjoying with fireplace all evening, Samsonov flew to the highest of his crease to maintain Capricorn at bay.
“He’s like he’s been all 12 months, I believe he’s assured,” Tavares stated of the No. 35. “You see him as aggressive, difficult shooters. He makes use of his body and his motion, his quickness, he takes a number of the online. He continues to battle. He’s a real competitor ».
Netminder characterised the evening in the identical means.
“A great battle,” Samsonov stated after the sport, nonetheless with a glance of irritated disappointment on his face at being blown out by MacKinnon’s taking pictures try. “Each groups wished to win immediately.”
No. Making an attempt to do it towards elite hitters like 29 and eight is a troublesome ask.
“He’s a bit of completely different than (Connor) McDavid and (Leon) Draisaitl, however once more, a number of pace,” the netminder stated of taking up MacKinnon and Makar. “It’s a must to be a bit of bit ready earlier than these guys come into the zone, it’s important to be ready for all the pieces. It’s a must to see the place the striker strikes, the place the D strikes. These are actually sensible gamers.
In the long run, the brilliance of the defending champions, and good luck, gained the day. Nonetheless, within the eyes of their goalkeeper, the blue and whites can nonetheless get one thing out of this one.
“It was match earlier than the playoffs,” Samsonov stated. “My teammates performed nicely immediately. I don’t like taking pictures a bit. … However we’ve got a degree.
“Preserve your head up and preserve shifting.”