Maple Leafs ‘fortunate’ to have Woll leading from the crease

Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
1 month ago
Joseph Woll had his moment. The 25-year-old netminder was lights out in his first start in this season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, brushing off a shaky first period where he let in one goal on two shots, to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a Game 5 victory. over the Boston Bruins. The crease is now his moving forward.
During Game 4, the Maple Leafs were down 3-0 after two periods and head coach Sheldon Keefe decided his team needed a spark. Woll started the third period in relief of Ilya Samsonov and while the Leafs weren’t able to muster a four-goal comeback, it gave Woll a chance to get his feet wet in the series and needless to say, it paid off in spades in Game 5. Keefe explained his decision after Game 4:
“The reason for it is we’re just trying to change things,” Keefe said via Sports Illustrated’s David Alter. “You get to get Joe involved. That’s really it. You’re trying to change the momentum. As for what we’ll do going forward, we’ve got some time here to talk it through.”
Keefe and his staff talked it through, Woll got the call and the series now heads back to Toronto on Thursday night because of the decision. The Boston College alum stopped 26 of 27 shots, including an unbelievable save late in the third period on Trent Frederic to keep the Maple Leafs in the game.
Woll got better as Game 5 went on, stopping his next 26 shots after letting in the opening goal in the first period. Toronto looked like a confident bunch in front of its new starter, which was a great sign considering they were playing without Auston Matthews. Woll’s close friend and overtime hero Matthew Knies was asked about Woll’s performance after scoring the winner.
“Just that he played unbelievable, you know, kept us in the game the entire night,” Knies said to Sportsnet’s Kyle Bukauskas. “We’re pretty fortunate to have that guy back there. He’s so steady and he keeps the game alive for us.”
Pretty fortunate, indeed! Knies went on to mention he feels ‘safe’ when Woll is in net. This moment after the game between Knies and Woll is what passion is made of. The Maple Leafs are in very good hands with these two in the mix for years to come.
There will be no doubt on who gets the start in Game 6 as Woll will look to do something Ilya Samsonov couldn’t do so far these playoffs: win on home ice. There’s still some uncertainty around Matthews’ status, but if the Maple Leafs are able to play with the same type of execution and confidence, anything is possible. They don’t need to win three in a row, they just need to win one game, three times. One down, two to go.

There’s still plenty left to be desired

Toronto’s power-play went 0-3 in Game 5, leaving many scratching their heads considering the talent level. While the Maple Leafs were able to sneak out the OT victory, changes need to be considered on special teams.
Keefe needs to consider giving Knies some power-play time and change up his top unit. Tyler Bertuzzi could perhaps be moved to the second unit and the same could be said about John Tavares. He shouldn’t keep rolling the same five guys out with the man advantage and if Matthews ends up playing in Game 6, they need to go with a completely different look moving forward. Knies, Matthews, Marner, Morgan Rielly and William Nylander should get some run. Something has to give.
It’s Woll’s crease here on out, however and give Keefe some credit for giving his young goalie a taste in Game 4, to then help lead the Maple Leafs to a thrilling Game 5 victory. The Bruins were eliminated by the Florida Panthers last season after being up 3-1 in the series. It all started with a Game 5 overtime loss. Let’s see if history repeats itself.

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