Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Woll’s calmness is everything the Maple Leafs need in a do-or-die game
By Nick Barden9 months ago
Joseph Woll has arrived at centre stage — underneath the bright lights — and is flourishing as the backbone of the Maple Leafs.
The 24-year-old’s story is nothing short of brilliance.
Woll stepped foot on the ice with the Marlies just five months ago for the first time since recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered nearly 14 months ago.
And following an injury to Matt Murray late in the regular season, the 24-year-old was thrusted into the Maple Leafs’ backup position.
But it’s a place Woll’s been before. One that he’s succeeded in, too.
After an injury to Ilya Samsonov in Game 3, the 24-year-old was yet again catapulted into new heights. Though this time it was unfamiliar territory.
Prior to the biggest game of his life, Woll stood stationary in the hallway leading out to the ice. Imagine getting your first NHL playoffs start in what is a doe-or-die game. What would you be thinking?
What was Woll thinking when he stood in the tunnel looking as quiescent as possible?
“I think the aim is to not be thinking,” said Woll to Sportsnet’s Kyle Bukaskas after only allowing one goal on Wednesday night.
“I think that’s a big thing I’ve come to is when I’m playing my best is when I’m out of my head and just trusting that I know what to do, and just going out there and playing.”
The 24-year-old stopped 24 of 25 shots on Wednesday night being the backstop to the Maple Leafs’ victory. Woll noticed how good his play was, as did his teammates who’ve been nothing but supportive to the young goaltender.
“(He’s) confident but calm in there, at all times, it’s so impressive.” Said Ryan O’Reilly to the media on Thursday in Florida.
“To come in for that pressure of game and to just do what he did, only gives up one, that’s an amazing thing he did. He’s just so calm in net.”
Calm might be an understatement for Woll. The 24-year-old was so undisturbed prior to Game 4, in what was the biggest game of his life.
Back in January, while Woll was on a historic run with the Marlies, I asked him if he expected all of this after a long recovery.
“I honestly don’t know if I would’ve even thought about it.” He said with a smile.
I wonder if he ever thought this was possible: Winning a do-or-die game and then going back in for yet another two nights later.
This is the biggest moment of the 24-year-old’s hockey career. And if Woll is as calm as he was ahead of Game 4, anything is possible for him and the Maple Leafs on Friday night.
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