According to Sheldon Keefe, Matt Murray has earned the start tonight in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ net. In Murray’s case, he’s the guy with more experience and it’s just natural for the coaching staff to make that choice.
Considerations in Making the Choice Between Goalies
At the same time, it also helped the coaching staff make that choice because the second game of the season is a quick turnaround against Ilya Samsonov’s former Washington Capitals. Because of the schedule, it just made sense that the game goes to Ilya Samsonov.
The one concern was that, as a coach, Keefe noted that it might give him pause to think about how playing Samsonov against his old team might affect his mindset. Still, all things considered, as a coaching staff Keefe believed it was important to give Murray the first game of the season with Samsonov getting the home opener.
Both Goalies Have Performed Well During the Preseason
As Keefe put it in the video, both goalies have performed well during the preseason and certainly deserve the opportunity to have those particular moments. In fact, the outstanding quality of the goalie’s play has helped increase the optimism that Keefe brought into the season.
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Keefe was not blind to the baggage these goalies bring to the season. Specifically, he noted that, as an organization, the Maple Leafs were well aware that the team had to play in a way that allowed both goalies to get on track.
However, when Keefe looked at the talent and experience these two new goalies brought to the team, he believed there was huge hope for optimism.
It Was Hard for Keefe Not to Compare These Goalies with Past Goalies
Keefe didn’t want to compare Murray and Samsonov to goalies from the past; however, it was hard for him not to do so. Keefe noted that the team obviously has had previous goalies who’ve had the ability. Still, Murray’s NHL experience and his accomplishments of winning two Stanley Cups set him apart. He’s been part of great teams before.
At the same time, Samsonov was a high first-round draft choice. He also performed as a starting goalie in the playoffs last year. That matters to the Maple Leafs moving forward into the regular season.
In Addition to Skill & Experience, Murray & Samsonov Bring Confidence
Keefe noted that both new goalies really give the team confidence. However, at the same time, he believed the team had a responsibility to work with both goalies to help them feel good coming through the offseason into training camp and then into the regular season.
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Another reason Keefe had gained confidence in Murray and Samsonov was that they had delivered on everything asked of them. Now, as the team enters the regular season, both goalies need to step up to another level. As coaches and as a team in front of them, Keefe’s goal was to protect them and give them every opportunity to succeed.
Again, although coach Keefe didn’t want to compare Murray and Samsonov to those goalies who’ve been in goal here over the last couple of seasons, it was hard not to. The bottom line is that both goalies give Keefe and the rest of the team confidence coming into the regular season.
Maple Leafs’ fans must hope he’s right.