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Woll Gets the Nod: Back Between the Pipes After 3-Month Injury

After missing 35 games, Joseph Woll is set to make his return to the Toronto Maple Leafs net tonight against the Arizona Coyotes. As the former number-one goalie, Woll’s comeback promises stability in the crease for a team eager to break their home losing streak against the Coyotes in regulation, dating back to 2002. All eyes will be on Woll as he steps back into the NHL spotlight, with fans hopeful that he can pick up right where he left off before his injury.

Maple Leafs Woll Returns to Action

Woll’s Comeback

Woll, sidelined with a high ankle sprain, had been a reliable force for the Leafs, boasting an 8-5-1 record, a 2.80 goals-against average (GAA), and a .916 save percentage. His absence left a significant void in the Leafs’ goaltending lineup, stirring concerns about their depth between the pipes. During a recent stint with the Marlies last week, Woll showed he’s still got the NHL pace, making 36 saves out of 37 shots faced.

Samsonov’s Struggles

During Woll’s time on the sidelines, the Leafs faced some goaltending woes, particularly with Illya Samsonov experiencing a significant slump. Samsonov struggled, allowing 21 goals in just four starts, including a rough outing against the Columbus Blue Jackets where he let in four goals on the first 11 shots he faced. After this performance, the Leafs sent Samsonov down to the AHL Marlies to regain confidence and improve his game.

Jones’ Steps Up

Stepping up in Samsonov’s absence was veteran netminder Martin Jones, who managed to string together four consecutive wins for the Leafs. Jones’s solid performances, including during a challenging three-game road trip in the Western Conference, helped alleviate some of the concerns surrounding the team’s goaltending situation.

Three’s Company in the Net

Now, with Woll back in the net, the Leafs face a dilemma regarding their goaltender lineup. The question arises: should the team carry three goaltenders? While having depth in goal is valuable, it seems unnecessary considering the strong performances of both Woll and Samsonov when at their best.

The Leafs will likely hold off on making any roster decisions until closer to the trade deadline when the 23-player roster limitation is lifted. At that point, the team’s primary concern will be ensuring they have enough cap space.

If Woll can replicate his pre-injury form, the Leafs may find themselves in a position where they can prioritize addressing other areas of their lineup, such as filling the right side on defense. This potential shift in focus could have far-reaching implications for the team’s playoff prospects. Woll’s comeback shores up Leafs’ goalie strength, fueling anticipation for tonight’s game and igniting hope for playoff success among fans.

Main Photo: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports


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