Head Coach Sheldon Keefe Gets Honest About His Starting Goaltender

Pat Quinn
December 29, 2023  (9:51)

To say Ilya Samsonov has struggled so far this season for the Toronto Maple Leafs would be an understatement. He is currently having the worst season of his career. This is especially surprising as he posted a 0.919 save percentage, along with 27 wins, in 42 games last season.

Sheldon Keefe gets honest about Samsonov

Head coach Sheldon Keefe noted that the Christmas break may be what Samsonov needs to get his mind right:
"In terms of how it sets up, I think it's great. It is a chance to get away from the game for a bit and then also come back and have an opportunity to get back up to speed and see the puck.

I have always kind of felt that any time you take a break — such as the three-day break we took — it tends to be difficult on the goalies. They are so used to their routines, seeing pucks, seeing releases, and all of those kinds of things. When you break that, it is harder to get the timing back."

Keefe announced that Samsonov would be getting the start on Friday December 29th against the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road. It should be a winnable game for the Maple Leafs as the Blue Jackets are again in the NHLs basement, but Toronto has a tendency to lose games against teams with a losing record this season as well.

Samsonov in Toronto this season has not been good at all

Samsonov has lost his job at least twice this season, and once was to Martin Jones. Even though he is 5-2-5 it feels as though he has played to a 0-20-0 record.

Samsonov is a UFA once this season is over, and he if wants a long-term contract, he is really going to need to step up his game.

As Read On Hockey Feed - Sheldon Keefe gets honest regarding Ilya Samsonov Can the Leafs goaltender improve?