Joseph Woll has played his way into being next goaltender called up to Maple Leafs
Photo credit:Thomas Skrlj-Toronto Marlies
By Nick Barden10 months ago
Joseph Woll last played in the NHL 419 days ago and it’s time for him to return there, again, with the Maple Leafs.
It was a strange Friday night for the team, to say the least. Matt Murray was supposed to start against Ottawa. That was until he suffered an injury in warmups, according to Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe.
“He’s been dealing with something that flared up on him tonight,” Keefe told reporters on Friday night, “so he wasn’t available to play.”
That meant Ilya Samsonov — who’s played in Toronto’s previous four games — was getting the start.
Murray remained on the bench for the entire game, though Keefe did say that he wouldn’t have been able to play had Samsonov got injured.
“We would’ve been EBUG in that situation I believe.” The head coach added.
It’s not known whether Murray will be available to play, or even be the backup for Toronto on Sunday against Washington . And when Keefe was asked if the team would have another goaltender for Saturday’s practice, he really didn’t have an answer.
“We’ll see,” Keefe said to reporters Friday night. “The Marlies are away and we’ll get a better idea of exactly where everything’s at — it obviously happened pretty quickly and right before game time. (We) haven’t had a lot of time to get organized on it, but we’ll have that for you tomorrow.”
If the Maple Leafs do in fact call up a goaltender to back up Samsonov for Sunday’s game (and for the short future), it should be a fairly easy decision.
Ever since Woll has returned to the Marlies’ crease, his play in the AHL has been stellar. After Friday night’s win against the Manitoba Moose — in which he stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced — the 24-year-old improved to 12-1-0 with a .928 save percentage.
It’s something nobody could’ve imagined when he returned to the net two months ago.
“It’s awesome. It gets the boys going,” Adam Gaudette told Marlies play-by-play commentator Todd Crocker of Woll’s play after Friday’s win over Manitoba. “When you’ve got a goalie like that who can bail you out and make saves, it gives you so much more confidence.”
November 13th, 2021 was Woll’s first-ever NHL game. He played three more after that while up with the Maple Leafs, before returning to the Marlies with a 3-1 NHL record and a .911 save percentage.
And with the way the 24-year-old has played this season, it’d be crazy to choose someone else.
Calling up Woll will be good for a couple of reasons. One, it’s a reward for his strong play with the Marlies this season after recovering from injury. And two, it allows Erik Kallgren and Keith Petruzzelli (who hasn’t played in an AHL game since Boxing Day) to get into a rhythm as a tandem.
Woll has really leveled up his game since recovering from the two injuries he suffered last year. His skating, movement, and positioning has all improved and he isn’t only relying on his elite athleticism to make saves.
Put that together with his powerful mindset, and you’ve got a great goaltender.
After a strong run in the NHL back in 2021, and with the refined aspects of his game now, Woll should have a strong showing should he be given the chance in the Maple Leafs’ net.
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