Woll resumes skating, Samsonov practices with the Marlies, and the flu bug returns: Leafs Practice Notes

Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
1 month ago
Joseph Woll took a big step towards his return as he took to the ice this morning for the first time since his injury.
While he only did light work with goaltending coach Curtis Sanford as they were cautious with his movement, it is an encouraging sign that his recovery has gone well up to this point. Sheldon Keefe told reporters that Woll is still a ways to go before he is cleared to return, but the fact he is back on the ice a little over a month after his ailment bodes well for his recovery timeline.
He has been out with a high-ankle sprain since early December when he exited a game against the Senators. He went down in discomfort after going across to make a save near the post before being helped off the ice, which was a shame given how well he had been playing before his injury as he was emerging as the starter. Given how integral he has been to the Leafs this season, they will take their time to ensure he is fully healthy before being reinstated as they can’t afford him to miss more time.
Martin Jones has seen the bulk of the starts since then and has done well in providing stability in the crease at a time when Toronto desperately needed it. He is fresh off a dominant week where he only allowed two goals in three starts including a shutout for a perfect record on the California trip.
The same cannot be said for Ilya Samsonov who struggled mightily last month, culminating in him being sent down to the Marlies. He did not make any appearances in practice or games this past week as the Leafs allowed him to use that time to recalibrate.
Brad Treliving spoke with the media yesterday expressing that he was pleased to see the progress the Russian goalie made during his week away from the rink with solo workouts. Samsonov is expected to practice with the AHL squad today but it will be up to the Leafs GM to determine whether he plays with the Marlies or returns to the Leafs. It remains unclear how much time is needed before will be given a second chance in the NHL but Samsonov getting another start with the Leafs is not so outlandish after all.
Dennis Hildeby will serve as the backup in the interim and judging by comments made by Treliving, it is unlikely the Swedish netminder will get into a game unless circumstances force the team’s hand. While I can understand some fan’s desires to give him a run against a weaker opponent, there are also some risks and it would not shock me if Hildeby’s first NHL appearance does not happen until next season.
The flu bug has reemerged and is once again wreaking havoc on the Leafs, meaning that the lineup for tonight’s game against the Sharks is far from a guarantee. Nick Robertson was originally projected to be a healthy scratch for the third straight game but could return to the lineup if someone is unable to play.
Keefe wants to see more out of Robertson, telling reporters that he feels he has not separated himself from the pack at both ends of the ice and that doing so will be the next step in his development. To his credit, Robertson acknowledged that he can improve his mental fortitude and not let the threat of someone stealing his spot get to him. The offensive talent is there and has been since making his NHL debut in the bubble, but improving his defensive play is what will ensure he remains in the lineup indefinitely.
Pontus Holmberg has been used in three of the past four games with one assist in that span. By contrast, Robertson had goals in two straight games after failing to find twine in over a month. There will certainly be some internal competition on full display should the two players be slotted simultaneously for the next little while.

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