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Knee Jerk Reaction: The Leafs win, but at what cost?

Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
2 months ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in regulation. Each forward line chipped in with a goal, and despite looking sluggish for much of the game, managed to steal an important two points from a divisional rival. It should have been a win worth celebrating in every aspect. Instead, fans are on their toes awaiting an update on the status of Joseph Woll. 
With nine minutes to go in the third period, after Woll stood on his head and made enough highlight reel saves to last a season, he collapsed to the ice while making a routine save on what appeared to be a nothing shot. But, whatever it was messed him up to the point where he needed assistance getting to the locker room. Thus, with a one-goal lead, veteran Martin Jones stepped in and made his Leafs debut. While he did allow a goal while the Senators had the goalie pulled to bring them within one, he made some crucial saves and kept the Leafs in the game when Ottawa pressed the most. 
Still though, given the volume of games coming up on the Leafs’ schedule, these two points will be overlooked until there’s some clarity on what happened to Woll. There’s been no update on what exactly the injury is, but Sheldon Keefe confirmed that he will miss some time after the game. 
The Leafs’ goaltending situation outside of Woll this year is…bleak, to say the least. Ilya Samsonov has had his moments, but his bad games have outweighed the good ones – he carries a record of 4-1-3 on the year with a measly .878 save percentage and a 3.58 goals-against average. He also hasn’t played since November 24 against the Chicago Blackhawks, both due to a nasty illness he’s been battling and Woll’s success on this recent run.
The Leafs host the Nashville Predators on Saturday, and if Samsonov’s not back to 100%, it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world to give Jones a look. The 33-year-old’s stats on paper weren’t pretty last season, scraping together a .887 SV% to go along with a 2.95 GAA, but despite the rough individual stats, he managed a record of 27-13-3. The Leafs, on paper, are a better team than the Kraken, so it’s not unreasonable to think Jones could at least help them keep their heads above the water until Woll is good to go again, but again, it’s a lot easier said than done until the Leafs know when he’ll be back.

Other thoughts:

  • Although the Leafs looked careless at points during the game, it was nice to see all four lines contribute a goal. The shot clock and their first period performance, specifically, leave a lot to be desired, but it’s not often you see Mitch Marner score a goal on the same night they get one from David Kampf. 
  • The Leafs’ defensive play, on the other hand, is something that’s going to need addressing sooner rather than later. While Simon Benoit and Jake McCabe specifically had great games for themselves, the pairing of Conor Timmins and Max Lajoie struggled mightily. This is obviously not something that the Leafs will have to deal with down the stretch, as the back end gets healthy and trades are inevitably made, but those trades might have to happen sooner rather than later. 
  • I thought Matthew Knies played a great game tonight. While he didn’t find the scoresheet, he laid three hits, including a massive one right before Nylander extended the Leafs’ lead to 4-2, and he was strong on the forecheck all night. His offensive game might not be consistent so far this year, but his presence in the corners should guarantee him a spot on that top line for the foreseeable future. 
What’s your knee jerk reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know below.

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