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Woll looks to build momentum as battle for Leafs crease heats up


The Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils skated at Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday. 


For the first time since returning from a high ankle sprain on Feb. 29, Joseph Woll will make consecutive starts for the Leafs. 

"If last game was any indication, he's building momentum and kind of getting back into a groove," said coach Sheldon Keefe. "That's why it was important to get him back in the net tonight."

Woll stopped 41 shots in Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. That is the most saves by a Leafs goalie in a game this season.

"He faced a lot of shots," said winger Bobby McMann. "A lot of Grade-As, too. We gave up a few too many chances. Credit for him for stopping it for us. That's just regular for him, though. He's an elite competitor and he's always ready to go."

When Ilya Samsonov stumbled out of the gate this season, Woll seized the No. 1 job in the Leafs crease. He started the year 8-5-1 with a .916 save percentage. But since returning from injury, Woll is 2-3-0 with an .899 save percentage. 

"He's had some tough starts," pointed out Keefe. "He's been on the tail end of back-to-backs. He's played some tough opponents, all those kind of things. So, getting him in this one here tonight, I thought was important for lots of reasons, not just the way he played in the last game, but just getting him a little extra start."

Three of the five starts Woll has made since the injury have come with the Leafs playing on consecutive days, including on Sunday. Although the team did send Woll to Raleigh on Saturday afternoon ahead of the team to ensure the 25-year-old got a regular amount of sleep. 

"He's building momentum and looked great the other night," Keefe said. 

Four of the games Woll has played since returning have come against teams currently in a playoff spot.

ContentId(1.2095428): Woll looks get on a roll; Samsonov back on the ice and listed as day-to-day


Samsonov has started seven of 11 games for the Leafs in March, but left Saturday's showdown with the Edmonton Oilers late in the third period with an undisclosed injury. 

"With Samsonov having a little bump in the road with an injury it allows that opportunity [for Woll] and just makes it fall into place or makes the decision somewhat easier in that sense," said Keefe.

Samsonov worked out on the ice before the team's skate on Tuesday. However, he did not stay out for the main session.

"He hadn't skated in the last couple of days," Keefe said. "So, today is a chance for him to just sort of work his way back into the mix. And, at this point, based on how things went today, we're expecting him in practice tomorrow and then take it from there."

Martin Jones will dress as the backup goalie. 


Mitch Marner skated on his own again as he continues to work his way back from a high ankle sprain sustained on March 7.

“Mitch is no longer day-to-day from being day-to-day," said Keefe with a smile. "He's just day-to-day." 

The winger will miss an eighth straight game on Tuesday, but hasn't been ruled out beyond that. 

"He's progressing very well," Keefe said. "Not available today, but as far as his plan for the rest of the week, I think that'll be determined tomorrow. I haven't got the full report on how it went today. So, status for practice is undetermined right now, but he's doing well." 


Defenceman Morgan Rielly missed the morning skate and is doubtful to play against the Devils due to a minor undisclosed injury. 

"Rielly is day-to-day, actually not ruled out for tonight at this point, but we'll see how he is later today," said Keefe. "If he doesn't go today, it's a day to day type of situation for him."

Defenceman Joel Edmundson also missed the skate and will not play due to an undisclosed injury. 

"I wouldn't expect him this week," Keefe said. 

The Leafs will host the Washington Capitals on Thursday before heading to Buffalo to take on the Sabres on Saturday. 

ContentId(1.2095424): Marner upgraded to day-to-day; Rielly doubtful to play; Edmundson out


T.J. Brodie returned to the Leafs lineup on Sunday. The embattled blueliner logged a season-low 17 minutes and six seconds of ice while finishing minus-one against the Hurricanes. 

"He was fine," Keefe told reporters on Sunday night. 

Brodie has declined interview requests since being made a healthy scratch in two games last week. It's the first time the 33-year-old has been benched for performance-related issues during his four-year run in Toronto. 

Brodie paired with Ilya Lyubushkin, Rielly's usual partner, at Tuesday's skate. 

"He's a veteran," said Lyubushkin. "He knows how to play this game, you know, long time and he's a big professional. I'm super excited to play with him tonight."

Jake McCabe, who paired with Brodie on Sunday, skated alongside Timothy Liljegren. The third pair featured Simon Benoit and Conor Timmins

Mark Giordano, who has been sidelined since sustaining a concussion on Feb. 29, skated as the extra defenceman. He is now eligible to be activated off long-term injured reserve. 

"I would like, definitely, to keep guys involved, and we've seen that, you know, with how we've handled some of the back-to-backs," Keefe said. "We need everybody. That's on forward or defence. Guys need to stay ready .... We're managing all these things as best we can, but the good news is that no matter what we've done and how we've moved things, the group has responded well to it."

ContentId(1.2095489): Leafs Ice Chips: Brodie aims to get on track beside Lyubushkin


The Devils have won three of four games, but still sit five points outside a playoff spot. 

"It's pretty easy to have a lot of urgency in your game at this time of year, so I expect that out of our group," said interim coach Travis Green. "There's not one area you have to be good at. You got to be good in all areas to beat teams like this."

The Leafs will have to match New Jersey's desperation even though they are well on their way to an eighth straight postseason berth. 

"We haven't clinched anything," Keefe stressed. "Nothing's secure at this point in time. And we need to approach it that way. Every day, every shift, every practice we get, we got to have a level of urgency to everything that we're doing here."

Toronto failed to match the intensity of the Philadelphia Flyers during a loss last week before bouncing back in a big way in Washington against the surging Capitals.  

"Let's not have any slips like we did in Philadelphia," Keefe said. "That was a disappointing game in lots of ways. And, you know, I thought we responded well in Washington, certainly responded very well against Edmonton."

Keefe warned that the Devils also have a "high-octane" offence with the ability to strike in transition. Toronto will be looking for an effort similar to Saturday night when they built a 5-0 lead against the Oilers. 

"Just address it the way we did that Edmonton game," said McMann, who scored twice against the Oilers. "We were ready for the competition that we were facing. I think we took it from the approach that we're gonna dictate this game from the get-go."

ContentId(1.2095176): Hayes on Leafs win over Oilers: ‘I liked how nasty they were’


Nick Robertson scored Toronto's only goal on Sunday in Raleigh, but the 22-year-old winger wasn't thrilled with his performance. 

"I have to clean up a few areas of my game," Robertson told David Alter of The Hockey News. "That's how this league goes, you have good games, you have bad games and now it's for me to learn from my mistakes and get better for the next one."

The focal point? 

"Puck management," Robertson said. "For a young guy, it's tough. I've been solid in my own end some games this season, but some games like [in Carolina] was a tough one. I'll work on that and be mindful for next game."

Knies is feeling the same way. 

"My game too, it's slipped a little bit," the 21-year-old rookie said. "I'm not making the best puck decisions. But I'm still moving my feet and playing hard and getting it off the wall and getting it towards the net. I just need to make quicker decisions with the puck."

Knies has produced just one goal and one assist in the past 11 games. 


The Leafs dedicated significant time to the penalty kill at Tuesday's morning skate. 

"We're a little bit in-between," said McMann. "When you aren't having success, you second guess it a little bit. You're a little bit in-between, thinking about it rather than reacting. I think we can just react and just play hockey and pressure their guys."

The Leafs have allowed a goal while shorthanded in seven of the last eight games and dropped to 27th overall in penalty-kill percentage (76). 

Lyubushkin was succinct when asked how the team needs to play on the kill. 

"Aggressive," he said. 

The penalty-kill units at the skate featured: 



Kampf - Dewar

Matthews - Nylander

Holmberg - Gregor 

Knies - McMann 



Brodie / McCabe - Lyubushkin 

Benoit - Liljegren 



Devils rookie Luke Hughes grew up in Toronto while his dad, Jim Hughes, worked for the Leafs organization (2006-15). 

"A lot of memories out there," the 20-year-old defenceman said after coming off the ice on Tuesday. "And just watching the Leafs play growing up, a lot really good memories so it was pretty cool to be out there. It will be pretty cool to play the Leafs tonight."

"Every player looks forward to playing in Toronto," said Devils forward Curtis Lazar. "You got the spotlight there. First time for him tonight and I'm sure he's going to put on a show." 

This is where the youngest Hughes brother discovered his passion for the game. 

"Playing for the Marlboros, playing in the GTHL, just growing up and falling in love with the game," he recalled. "It's probably one of the greatest places that celebrates hockey."

"Every player likes to come and play here against the Leafs," said Green, who played three seasons with the Leafs. "I remember that well as a player. I think every player enjoys playing for the Leafs as well. A special place." 

With 39 points in 72 games, Hughes is third in rookie scoring behind only Chicago Blackhawks centre Connor Bedard (50) and Minnesota Wild defenceman Brock Faber (40). 

"He's like Quinn but a lot different in ways," said Green, who coached Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes in Vancouver. "He's just a very special talent and he's going to have a long career in the league and the ceiling's high ... He's a bigger guy [than Quinn]. He's a different player. He skates a little different. His play with the puck is a bit different as well. He defends different than Quinn. But he's humble, a lot like Quinn, which is always what you want to see out of young players, and he's hungry to learn."

Luke (6-foot-2, 184 pounds) is also bigger than Quinn (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) with lots of room to grow.  

"He's so young and so he's so raw," Lazar gushed. "You look at the potential that he has and the talent, some of the stuff he does with the puck is incredible, and once he grows into that body a couple years down the road, he's going to be a force to reckon with."  

ContentId(1.2095472): Luke Hughes gets chance to 'put on a show' in return to Toronto


Lines at Leafs skate: 


Bertuzzi - Matthews - Domi 

McMann - Tavares - Nylander 

Knies - Holmberg - Robertson 

Dewar - Kampf - Gregor 



McCabe - Liljegren 

Brodie - Lyubushkin 

Benoit - Timmins 







Lines at Devils skate: 


Meier - Hischier - Bratt

Halonen - Haula - Holtz

Palat - Nosek - Mercer

Willman - Tierney - Lazar


Bahl - Marino

Hughes - DeSimone

Hatakka /Smith - Nemec


Allen starts