Ilya Samsonov needs to avoid soft goals in Game 4

Photo credit:Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
6 hours ago
While most of the attention has been on the Toronto Maple Leafs special teams struggles and William Nylander’s injury-related absences, Ilya Samsonov should also be in the spotlight. And unfortunately, it’s for all the wrong reasons.
Samsonov wasn’t the main source of defeat for Game 1 and the Leafs 5-1 loss, but he wasn’t in top form. Game 2, Samsonov made 27 saves on 29 shots, doing a complete 180 in Game 2. Alongside Auston Matthews, Samsonov led the Maple Leafs to a 3-2 victory.
Game 3 wasn’t the same story. Samsonov looked very ordinary during the Leafs 4-2 defeat and this goal he allowed in to Trent Frederic late in the second period, up a goal, was as soft as they come.
This can’t go in. It can’t go in during the regular season and certainly not in a crucial Game 3 when your team is trying to build momentum to end a period while up a goal, and from there onwards, the Maple Leafs struggled. Tyler Bertuzzi tied the game with less than 10 minutes left in the third but then Brad Marchand took advantage of some open space and picked the corner beautifully.
Samsonov needs to be in better position on this play. The puck is behind the net and he’s down, the puck goes into the corner, he’s still down and doesn’t get back on his feet. He’s not in proper position to cut off the angle in time and Marchand takes advantage. Samsonov needs to clean up his game if the Leafs stand any chance at getting past the Bruins, in what could be a full seven-game series.

Maple Leafs Offensive Struggles Place More Pressure on Samsonov

Toronto’s power play is struggling, to say the least and it can’t seem to stay out of the penalty box. Boston has taken advantage, scoring five power-play goals through the first three games. The finger can’t solely be pointed at Samsonov for the two losses.
It’s clear that the Maple Leafs are having a tough time scoring goals, which isn’t a new problem. During last year’s second-round series against the Florida Panthers, Toronto never scored more than two goals. So far against the Bruins, the Maple Leafs haven’t scored more than goals — in fact, Toronto hasn’t scored more than three goals during its past 10 playoff games, the longest active streak in the NHL.
This puts extra pressure on the team’s goaltending, defense and Samsonov needs to do his part. Samsonov’s legacy with the Maple Leafs rides on it. The 27-year-old is a pending unrestricted free agent and if he doesn’t turn his game around, there’s certainly a chance Brad Treliving walks away from him during the offseason.
Superior goaltending is a major reason why the rest of the league’s contenders are leading their respective playoff series. Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen is posting a .922 save percentage. with a 3-0 lead over the New York Islanders. Florida holds a commanding 3-0 lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning, while Sergei Bobrovsky has a 2.30 GAA. Jeremy Swayman has been on fire, posting a .955 save percentage for the Bruins. Logan Thompson has won two games for the Vegas Golden Knights, posting an impressive .920 save percentage. Samsonov’s .895 isn’t good enough.
Toronto needs more from its starting goaltender and Samsonov must bring his best for Game 4 on Saturday night. No more soft goals. No more momentum killers. Samsonov’s shown an ability to bounce back in more ways than one this season and this series and he’ll need to be in top form in Game 4 for the Maple Leafs to have a chance to tie things up.

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