Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Samsonov, Gio, Woll & Holmberg

To be blunt, the Boston Bruins came to town and beat the Toronto Maple Leafs quite easily by a score of 5-2. The Maple Leafs’ performance in last night’s game had to be disappointing for most fans. 

The Maple Leafs simply made too many mistakes, and it seemed that the Bruins took advantage of most of them. Even without Auston Matthews and his offense adding to the team’s arsenal, the loss serves as a reminder that getting out of the Eastern Conference is going to be tough this season. 

Getting to the Stanley Cup Final is always hard work, and the Maple Leafs still can’t claim that they can beat the Bruins regularly. So far this season, the Bruins deserve to be considered the top team in the NHL. 

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If the game was considered a test, the Maple Leafs failed. Fortunately, it’s only a mid-term and not the final test. In this edition of Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at some of the player news from the game as well as a review of where the team is headed into the All-Star Break and bye week.

Item One: Ilya Samsonov Played Two Different Games 

Ilya Samsonov played a great first period but then struggled over the last two periods. In the end, he gave up five goals on 16 shots. To his credit, the Bruins made him work hard. It seemed that most of the shots they took were high-quality scoring chances.

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Samsonov had played well over his past seven games, winning five. Furthermore, in those five wins, he gave up two or fewer goals. Not last night.  

In his 25 games on the season, Samsonov has now put up a record of 17-6-2, with a goals-against average of 2.42, and a save percentage of .913 in 25 appearances. With Matt Murray injured, Samsonov has been getting more starts. However, it’s not like he’s run away with the job.

Ilya Samsonov Toronto Maple Leafs
Ilya Samsonov, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

When Murray comes back from his injury, look for the goalie situation to get back to the sharing ways that have been the case thus far in the season. Both goalies have played well this season; and, at the same time, both have struggled.

Item Two: Mitch Marner Scores, But Goes Minus-3

Similar to Samsonov, Mitch Marner’s game was up and down. He scored a great-looking power-play goal, but he also was on the ice for three more goals against than goals-for. He ended up with a minus-3 rating in the 5-2 loss.

Looking back at Marner’s month of January, he’s been productive. In 15 games since the new year rolled in, he’s scored five goals and added 13 assists. Among those 18 points, he’s racked up 10 with the man advantage

Mitch Marner Toronto Maple Leafs
Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

On the season, he’s totaled 19 goals and added 41 assists (for 60 points). Again, he’s been productive on the power play, with 25 of his points being power-play points. In Marner’s seven-season NHL career, with last night’s point, he’s put up at least 60 points in every season he’s played.

Item Three: Mark Giordano Starts Game Strong

The speculation is that Mark Giordano might be running on fumes by the end of the season. However, no one can fault his recent production. Last night, he seemed to have all five of his shots on the opposition’s net in the first period. He also collected an assist on Calle Jarnkrok’s third-period goal that made the game close.

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Giordano has registered six points in his last eight games and now has 19 points on the season with a plus-19 rating. He’s played 52 games for the Maple Leafs this season, and some have been scrappy games. He’s also collected 45 penalty minutes this season. That’s been one of the biggest surprises in watching Giordano play game after game. I didn’t know he played with such an edge.

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

Perhaps when you’re an older player, the All-Star and bye-week break will be a time for refreshing the body and mind. However, that won’t be the case for goalie Joseph Woll and center Pontus Holmberg. The organization moved them back to the American Hockey League (AHL)’s Toronto Marlies where they’ll likely get more playing time.

Pontus Holmberg Toronto Maple Leafs
Pontus Holmberg, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Both Woll and Holmberg were reassigned to the Marlies immediately after the game. Woll had been called up when Murray’s ankle issue flared up. He might be recalled again if Murray can’t play following the All-Star Break. 

Holmberg played in last night’s game against the Bruins. Remarkably, in looking at his statistics, I was surprised to see that he’s played 33 NHL games this season. In those games, he’s put up 13 points and a plus-2 rating. 

There’s no doubt he will be recalled to the Maple Leafs’ roster after the All-Star Break. From my perspective, he’s no longer a depth forward. He’s become a regular on this team. He’s just one that can be moved up and down without waiver implications.

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