The Maple Leafs’ net belongs to Joseph Woll.
Certainly, it will on Tuesday, as the Leafs kick off a span that will see them play six of their next seven games at Scotiabank Arena.
Woll’s sharp play through four games — he’s 3-1-0 with a .961 save percentage — and the struggles of Ilya Samsonov are putting distance between the Toronto netminders.
Samsonov wasn’t as shaky in the Leafs’ 3-2 overtime loss in Nashville on Saturday as Toronto’s five-game trip concluded, but his return to consistency remains a work in progress.
In the early going, Woll has had no similar issues.
“Woll will play (against the Kings), but I do think it’s a good chance for (Samsonov) to get some momentum in terms of getting back and feeling better about himself and building off the work that he that he had done,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “I think he would agree, as we all would, that Joseph Woll did a terrific job for us on that trip, and we want to get him back in. It’s a long season. We know we’re going to need both guys. And we’ve got Woll in a good place.
“We want to keep building Sammy up and taking advantage of every day.”
Samsonov’s outlook was more positive than it was during the trip.
“Hard road trip for me, this is true,” Samsonov said. “But I’m happy to be home. A little bit rest my brain last night. I feel like I’m the right way right now.”
Kings coach Todd McLellan said it was “likely” that Cam Talbot will get the call in goal. In 10 career games against the Leafs, the 36-year-old Talbot is 5-2-1 with a .910 save percentage.
Signed by the Leafs to add some offensive punch off the blue line, John Klingberg hasn’t found a level of satisfaction.
Klingberg has five assists in eight games, but has just eight shots on goal and has not scored.
“It has to be a mindset I think, that I want to shoot the puck more,” Klingberg said. “That’s probably the one thing that I feel really needs to get going.
“I don’t feel like I’ve had enough shot attempts. And when I do, it seems to get blocked.
“Being more active in the O zone, I know it’s going to come, but at the same time, I don’t want to chase the game. That’s where I think I’ve been struggling before, is when you get frustrated and try to do too much.”
Drew Doughty won’t forget what has been, to this point, his only fight in the National Hockey League.
For the Kings’ engaging defenceman, it came in April 2012 against San Jose Sharks star Joe Thornton.
“He smoked me in the fight,” Doughty said with a gap-toothed grin.
“He sticked me in the (mid-section). I cross-checked him, and then I think he dropped the mitts. I took 10 to the face. But I was all right. Didn’t drop. I got zero in. I had no chance.”
A quick search revealed the video evidence, and Doughty’s memory was keen. Thornton filled him in with several lefts before the scrap ended.
Thornton, naturally shirtless, announced his retirement from the NHL via video during the weekend.
“Pretty awesome, tarp’s off, not surprising,” Leafs captain John Tavares said.
“He’s truly one of a kind. Amazing career. Future Hall of Famer. It was a great experience to play with Jumbo (with the Leafs in 2020-21). The enjoyment he has to be around the locker room, to be around the guys that he competes with every day, is pretty remarkable. We learned a lot even in the one year. He still stays in touch with quite a few of us.”
TIME TO EXHALE
Already without defenceman Jake McCabe (groin), there was some relief for the Leafs on Monday when Timothy Liljegren was on the ice for practice.
Liljegren left the game in Nashville on Saturday midway in the second period with some lower-body trouble. He was with Mark Giordano again on Monday and is expected to be in the lineup against Los Angeles.
“We did not know how that was going to go, but it seemed like it settled down pretty quickly for him,” Keefe said. “It became more of a muscle-spasm type of situation versus any sort of damage done. It was nice to know that we were going to have him.”
McCabe is “progressing well,” Keefe said, and is slated to join the Leafs for practice later in the week.
McLellan on facing Woll, who has never been in net against the Kings: “He has played pro hockey long enough. Our goaltending department will have an idea of what to expect. We know he has provided a ton of confidence for himself and for the team, and we expect him to be as good as he has been.” … After visiting the Boston Bruins on Thursday, the Leafs will play five home games in eight nights, starting Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres … The Toronto Marlies have signed winger Kieffer Bellows to a professional tryout. The 25-year-old, a first-round pick by the New York Islanders in 2016, has played in 95 games with the Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers, scoring 14 goals and recording 14 assists.
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