Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Samsonov, Kampf, Tavares & Simmonds

The Toronto Maple Leafs now have four wins on the season after beating the Winnipeg Jets 4-1 last night. It was a rough game, but the Maple Leafs seemed to have circulated a memo – stick up for your teammates. It was a different team than we’re used to seeing.

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It might have been Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford’s presence on the ice, although they were more the energy guys than the physical guys. But, the physical edge that might have been missing on the season was present last night. It seemed to make a big difference in the game.

In this edition of Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at how several players did last night. 

Item One: Ilya Samsonov Has Every Maple Leafs’ Win

Ilya Samsonov remains unbeaten. For all the Maple Leafs’ wins, he’s been in the net every time. It was his fourth win in four starts. Perfect.

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In total, the 25-year-old Samsonov has only allowed seven goals in his four games. He stopped 30 of 31 shots during the game. As well, the Jets didn’t score with the man advantage or when they were pressing hard at the end of the third period. He was solid.

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

There’s something reassuring about Samsonov’s demeanor in the net. He seems like a goalie who’s reading the play in front of him really well. The former first-round pick also seems to close off the center of the net. The Jets seemed to hit a number of posts. Bad luck perhaps, but might it also be that it’s the only space that’s open to shoot at?

Samsonov has had good starts during seasons before; however, is this the season he keeps it up? If so, he’s poised to take over the team’s goaltending in Toronto.

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Last night the Maple Leafs played good defense in front of him. Even when the team was down a goal, everyone looked like they expected to win. They did.

Item Two: David Kampf Scores Game-Winning Goal

David Kampf is called Mr. Reliable by Wayne Simmonds. Last night, he reliably scored the game-winning goal. He also centred the fourth line that, on the night, posted the best 5-on-5 possession metrics of any Toronto line. After five games of the team’s fourth line playing poorly, last night’s fourth line outshot the Jets 5-1 with Wayne Simmonds setting up Kampf’s goal on a nifty between-the-legs assist.

David Kampf Toronto Maple Leafs
David Kampf, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

During Kampf’s career, he’s now scored four game-winning goals. It’s his second with the Maple Leafs in just over a season. Last season, as Maple Leafs’ fans will recall, Kampf helped his team come roaring back from a deficit to beat the Chicago Blackhawks (Kampf’s former team) on December 11. 

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The 27-year-old Kampf has been a great pickup for the Maple Leafs. He is indeed Mr. Reliable. He’s played every game for the Maple Leafs since coming to the team. Furthermore, he set a career-high with 11 goals last season. Last night was his second goal of the season.

Item Three: John Tavares Is a Power-Play Wizard

Say what you want about John Tavares’ speed, the second-line center has hands of gold. This season, he’s especially thriving on the power-play unit. All three of his goals this season have been with the man advantage.

John Tavares Toronto Maple Leafs Andrei Vasilevskiy Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs Center John Tavares screens Tampa Bay Lightning Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

He scored two power-play goals last night and each goal was beautiful in its own way. The first goal showed his crafty moves and ability to shoot to a small spot. Tavares created a turnover near the crease, went backhand and forehand, and lifted a shot over Connor Hellebuyck’s right shoulder. The second goal was a tip on an Auston Matthews shot. That goal showed his amazing hand/eye coordination.

In Tavares’ 13 NHL seasons, the first-overall draft pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, has scored 119 career power-play goals. Can the captain hit another point-a-game pace for his Maple Leafs?

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

Wayne Simmonds’ made his season debut last night and made a difference in the team’s play. Now the question pops up: What should the Maple Leafs do with Simmonds? 

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Simmonds, who was the winner of the 2019 Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, had an assist on the night. But his presence was felt by the team. The 34-year-old veteran replaced Nicolas Aube-Kubel and helped energize the fourth line’s play. 

After being a consistent goal-scorer during his heyday, he now scores about a goal every 10 games he plays (12 goals in the 111 games) since coming to the Maple Leafs). But he showed that he can make a difference.

Now what?

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