The Leafs face the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at home, before they travel to Ottawa for Hockey Night In Awokeness tomorrow. This means the tandem of Ilya Samsonov and Matt Murray will get a game a piece, but we’re still not sure which goalie starts which game.
Matt Murray has a combined 0.847SV% over his last three starts, so it’s safe to say that he isn’t looking all that steady lately, though you shouldn’t tell that to Head Coach Sheldon Keefe:
While I think Murray could be better, Keefe does have a point. A major complaint about this defensive group has been their inability to box out the opposition and protect their net. While the addition of Luke Schenn can certainly help in that area, they still leave a lot to be desired.
Meanwhile, Ilya Samsonov hasn’t been completely consistent either, but he’s been much better than Murray. Coming off a solid effort against the Colorado Avalanche, where he allowed just 1 goal on 29 shots and produced a 0.966SV%, I think it’s long past time for him to be given more rope to run with the starters gig. Really, the only thing that has prevented that from happening, in my opinion, is the fact that Murray is signed through next season, with a caphit just shy of 4.7M. Unless they pay to move him, and they should be hesitant to pay to move a goalie with a bad contract two years in a row, Murray is here for a little over one more calendar year and when a goalie comes with a caphit that large you need to attempt to get him into games.
Marner played just under 30 minutes of hockey against Colorado, while Matthews played nearly 27 minutes. That’s a lot of ice time for a forward, so it makes sense to get these two grizzled vets some time to rest before a back-to-back. This is both serious and a joke, because I believe that they should get used to playing those types of minutes before the playoffs hit, as the team doesn’t have a prayer in their first round series against Tampa Bay if they’re not willing to massively overuse their star players. While the additions of players like Noel Acciari and Sam Lafferty are great for the bottom 6(5?), I still believe their depth isn’t good enough to compete against top end teams like the Lightning. Their defensive group is the complete opposite, with all the pieces you could ever want for the 3rd pair, but a lack of top end options.
Enjoy the game and your weekend folks. Hope to see you here for a chat when the puck drops!!