Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Kallgren, Murray, TJ & Samsonov

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I share news about the upcoming game tonight against the New York Islanders. The Islanders are on their last game of a four-game road trip. The Islanders began the trip with a 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators last Monday; then lost 5-4 to the Nashville Predators on Thursday; and, then lost again by a score of 5-2 to the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

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They’ve been giving up a lot of goals recently. Interestingly, young Mathew Barzal, who had registered 19 assists in 18 games, finally scored his first two goals of the season. It might be a high-scoring affair tonight.

Item One: Erik Kallgren Starting Tonight

Maple Leafs’ backup goalie Erik Kallgren is scheduled to start between the pipes tonight against the New York Islanders. This is a load-management issue and certainly not because current starting goalie Matt Murray has been playing poorly.

Erik Kallgren Toronto Maple Leafs
Erik Kallgren, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Kallgren has been backing up Murray for the past three games since the Thunder Bay native returned from his adductor injury. Murray’s played well for the team, and now it’s Kallgren’s turn for some time.

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Before Murray came back last week against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 26-year-old Swedish goalie had made four straight starts. In those starts, Kallgren has registered a record of 2-1-1, with a goals-against-average of 2.51 and a .893 save percentage.

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Unless Murray simply falls apart, which doesn’t seem likely after four games this season, Kallgren will be considered the backup. However, given that a Friday and Saturday back-to-back against the Minnesota Wild and the Penguins is looming, Kallgren should be given a chance to start one of those games. Smart money suggests it would be the Wild game, leaving Murray to go one more time against his old Penguins team.

Item Two: Matt Murray Will Start in New Jersey on Wednesday

Speaking of Murray, he stole a point against the New Jersey Devils the last time the two teams played. He’ll get another chance on Wednesday when the Maple Leafs play the Devils at Prudential Center in Newark. Over the past 10 games, the Maple Leafs are 6-1-2. However, the Devils are currently on a 12-game winning streak. 

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Murray has been simply great in his past few games. Against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, he could have easily had a shutout. However, during the second period, the Maple Leafs played shorthanded far too often. The Sabres do have firepower – especially their loaded first line of Jeff Skinner, Tage Thompson, and Alex Tuch – and were able to score on Murray.

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Those two goals were the only two Murray gave up. On the night, he stopped 32 of 34 shots that came his way. Since coming back from his groin injury, Murray has not lost a game in regulation time. His record in those three is 2-0-1 and his goals-against-average is 2.34.

Item Three: Ilya Samsonov Is Still A Week Away from Playing

Although the team’s goalie situation has not been great, the overall Maple Leafs’ record has been pretty good. The team’s other goalie, Ilya Samsonov, has a knee injury and is not expected to return until next week. However, logic suggests that he’s close to a return because he’s travelling with the team this week.

Ilya Samsonov Toronto Maple Leafs
Ilya Samsonov, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe reports that Samsonov should be back on the ice next Tuesday. The 25-year-old Russian goalie hasn’t been on the ice since November 5, when he was trying to stop a Brad Marchand penalty shot and was injured in the process.

Item Four: TJ Brodie’s Oblique Injury Isn’t Healing as Quickly as Expected

The news this morning is that defenseman T.J. Brodie will not be making the team’s upcoming road trip because his oblique injury isn’t progressing as well as expected. At first, Brodie was only due to miss a couple of weeks, but that now looks as if it will be a bit longer.

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The team will miss Brodie. He’s as solid as can be and plays a quiet game because he usually doesn’t make many mistakes on the ice. 

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

I have a feeling that the team might give 24-year-old defenseman Mac Hollowell a shot to make his NHL debut soon. He’s been moving up and down regularly from the AHL to the NHL and back to the AHL – almost daily it seems.

Yesterday Hollowell was sent down to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. Look for him to get a recall again soon as an extra defenseman – perhaps even tonight against the Islanders.