If goaltender Joseph Woll is successful in shaping his National Hockey League career in the mould of Carey Price, we imagine the Maple Leafs would be fine with that.
Max Domi said earlier in the Leafs’ five-game trip that Woll’s calm demeanour reminds him of Price when he was a teammate of the latter with the Montreal Canadiens.
Woll, who will start against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena, was chuffed to hear about the comparison.
“I grew up loving Carey Price, my favourite goalie as a kid, someone I have modelled my game after, so that is a very nice compliment,” Woll told reporters after the Leafs practised in Arlington, Va., on Monday. “I appreciate that. (Price) is stoic in the moment and that’s my aim as a goalie, is to be the same all the time, regardless of whether I’m playing well or poorly, winning, losing, that is a good thing I can do for the team.”
While Price has not officially retired, his playing days apparently have ended because of knee troubles. He is on LTIR this season and is expected to be until his contract ends in 2026.
Woll’s best NHL days are ahead of him. The 25-year-old could have an immediate opportunity to make a greater impact with the Leafs as Ilya Samsonov tries to find his way out of an early slump.
Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe is putting a positive spin on the situation, noting the healthy competition in the Toronto net.
“It’s proven more and more that teams require two goalies to not just push each other, but share the workload,” Keefe said. “I fully expected that was going to be the case coming in.
“You would like to have two goalies that are really thriving, but if one is slipping a little bit, you have another guy to go to.”
After allowing three goals on the first four Lightning shots in Tampa on Saturday, Samsonov was pulled. Woll relieved and stopped all 29 shots he faced in the Leafs’ 4-3 overtime win.
Samsonov said he was not surprised that he got the hook.
“It’s not easy, it’s hard to go to the bench after (four) shots,” Samsonov said. “It’s not what I want to see. I need to stay positive and keep working hard in practice. Sometimes you have a bad situation, but most important is how you learn (from) it.”
WAKE UP, OVIE
Keefe said he didn’t know that Capitals star Alex Ovechkin didn’t score in Washington’s first four games, but it might not have mattered had Keefe been aware.
“I usually don’t look at those kind of things,” Keefe said. “Whether he has or hasn’t, he is a dangerous player that you are going to be aware of and you’re going to game-plan for, so that wouldn’t change how we prepare for the game.”
If Ovechkin fails to score against the Leafs, it will mark the first time in his NHL career that he went the first five games of his season without putting the puck in the net. Only one previous time, in 2012-13, did Ovechkin not score until his fifth game.
Ovechkin is 72 goals short of tying Wayne Gretzky’s NHL mark of 894. In 56 career games against Toronto, Ovechkin has 41 goals.
The game will be Woll’s first against Ovechkin.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Woll said. “As you start to play more, you start to play these guys that you grew up watching, so it will be special to be on the same ice with him.
“His one-timer, he is a dangerous shooter from that side, so we will game-plan for him and make sure we’re ready.”
Now that Matthew Knies and Max Domi appear to be unlocked offensively, it’s Tyler Bertuzzi’s turn to take it up a few notches. Yes, Bertuzzi has been playing through a minor ailment, but if he’s OK to play, more should be expected. Bertuzzi’s lone point with the Leafs was a power-play goal against Minnesota on Oct. 14, and in his past three games, he has two shots on goal. Playing on Tuesday with captain John Tavares and William Nylander, who share the Leafs points lead with nine each, should be a boost for Bertuzzi … Rookie forward Fraser Minten will be scratched again after he sat out in Tampa. “It’s a good chance for him to step back and take a breath,” Keefe said. “We will take it a day at a time in terms of when he may get back in, but for now, it’s just about soaking up the experience and staying ready.” … The meeting marks the first for the Leafs against Capitals coach and former Toronto assistant Spencer Carbery, as well as defenceman Rasmus Sandin, who was traded to Washington last February. Sandin is averaging 22 minutes 13 seconds of ice time through four games, a continuation of the minutes Sandin got after he was traded, as he averaged nearly 23 minutes in 19 games with the Caps last season. In four seasons with the Leafs, Sandin’s highest game average was 17 minutes 59 seconds in 2022-23 … Tuesday will mark the NHL’s first Frozen Frenzy, as it is being called, as all 32 teams will be in action, with staggered start times. The Leafs and Capitals kick off the evening with a 6 p.m. faceoff, with games starting all night until the last one gets underway at 11 Eastern as Philadelphia visits Vegas.
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