Keefe, Samsonov address Maple Leafs' goaltending issues.
Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports  

Keefe, Samsonov address Maple Leafs' goaltending issues.

The head coach and his number one goaltender discuss the team's early struggles in goal.

Jonathan Larivee

In spite of a solid 5-2 start to the 2023-24 National Hockey League regular season, the Toronto Maple Leafs have some serious issues that need addressing early on in the season. Chief among those has been the inconsistent goaltending the team has received this season with starting netminder Ilya Samsonov having significant struggles between the pipes through his first 4 games of the season.

Samsonov has been, to put it bluntly, bad in his starts for the Leafs, so much so that Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe has turned to backup Joseph Woll who has played admirably for the Leafs this season. Keefe however isn't ready to throw Samsonov under the bus just yet.

"It's a mental game for him right now," said Keefe as per Luke Fox. "But I think the important message here is that it's early.

"It's early. Let's relax. This is a really good goalie that carried us through some tough times last year and had a career year, so let's let it breathe. Tomorrow's another opportunity for him to get in there and build his game back."

Samsonov himself however is a little more critical of his performances this season and that is a mental hurdle that could prove problematic for the Stanley Cup hopeful Maple Leafs.

"If I said I feel great, it's not the truth. I feel shit," admitted Samsonov. "But it's a piece of my life. I'm a guy who's going to be fighting through this. I will (be) fighting every day. Just not my time, the last three games. I know I'm better goalie than this."

Samsonov's desire to dig himself out of the hole he has put himself in early this season, with a 4.34 goals against average and a .831 save percentage to start the season, is admirable but the Leafs will have to hope he is successful in that endeavor if they are to establish any consistency between the pipes.