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Knee Jerk Reaction: Woll wants to end the goaltender controversy before it starts

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Photo credit:Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
6 months ago
Even before Tuesday night’s game against the Capitals I was prepared to rant about my distaste for the term “goaltender controversy.” It’s not a controversy when one goaltender is playing significantly better and they get a run with the net. Woll’s 36 save, 4-1 win over the Capitals further cements that he deserves a run of starts to see what he can do with the net being his and to also give Ilya Samsonov some time to figure out what he needs to get back on track.
By the second period the Maple Leafs star players arrived on the scene and helped make this a more enjoyable night of work for Joseph Woll but early on the responsibility to keep the Leafs in the game rested on his shoulders.
A good test is having to stop the (arguably) greatest goal scorer of all time on a penalty shot. Woll did that. He’d end up giving up a goal later on to Ovechkin, but the overall collection of work against Ovechkin who was absolutely hunting for his first of the season shows that Joe can take on the best of them (It took Ovechkin 13 shots to beat Woll according to Chris Johnston).
As much as Max Domi probably needs to pump the brakes on the Carey Price comparisons, I didn’t feel the brakes were necessary in this game. Woll stopped all 17 shots he faced in the first period and that is what the Leafs needed especially after the team giving up 3 on the first four shots against last game.
So that begs the question, what happens next game?
With Woll being vital to the wins in both Tampa and Washington, it seems like a no brainer to go with him on Thursday against Dallas. This game was supposedly the scheduled start for Woll so it stands to reason that Thursday would have been a Samsonov start and it will be interesting to see if Sheldon Keefe is willing to break from his plans. If not, you’d at least hope to see the Leafs go back to Woll against Nashville in an attempt to find Joe some more starts than what might have been in the initial plans for him.

Some other notes from the game:

  • Both Tavares and Nylander have continued their dominance and picked up goals. Nylander absolutely muscled towards the centre of the ice to get a great opportunity on net and Tavares did what he does best with a great deflection. The duo also managed to get Tyler Bertuzzi on the score sheet with a secondary assist on the Tavares goal, so expect that line to remain for at least another game.
  • Morgan Rielly’s goal was a great reminder of what he can do best when he’s on the powerplay. He had an absolutely brilliant pinch as a continuation of his zone entry and allowed Liljegren to find him where the Capitals wouldn’t have expected him. It’s also worth noting that Max Domi did a great job as an outlet for Rielly after the entry.
  • Matthews scored for the first time since the second game of the season. If that 3 game goal drought was bothering you, it’s time to exhale.
  • All the fourth liners were over 10 minutes of icetime and both Matthews and Marner were under 20 minutes. It was a nice change of intensity for the Leafs after having to fight their way back in their previous wins this season.
The Leafs go again Thursday night in Dallas on TSN4.

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