Maple Leafs report cards: Ilya Samsonov shines with a smile in win over Kraken

The Jap Convention continued to bulk up whereas the Leafs had been in the West and by chance, the 5-1 determination went in their favour.

Sheldon Keefe should be completely satisfied with his newest set of lineup experiments. My worry was that just one line would get going, however fortunately each discovered their approach onto the scoresheet. And whereas all of that scoring was happening, they received save after save from the one who smiles (extra on that later).

Tonight’s recreation was a mixture of the great issues from their final two outings towards the Sabres and the Wild. It had the offensive manufacturing from the sport in Buffalo with out the opposition crawling their approach again into it and had the sluggish construction that the Leafs wanted to interrupt by means of. The rating apart, the Kraken did a good job masking the slot and enjoying low in their very own finish. What labored for the Leafs was getting their defence concerned whereas additionally chopping by means of and making their very own holes in that construction.

And that was unbelievable to observe. On to the reviews.


First star 

Ilya Samsonov

The sport-saver by means of and thru. No matter what the scoresheet says, the Leafs didn’t dominate the Kraken. Seattle had a multitude of possibilities however stored operating into a goaltender who was on a grove. Samsonov got here up with huge and well timed saves all through the sport when the Leafs actually wanted them. He had a sturdy save on Seattle earlier than Giordano’s tying purpose and made three enormous saves in the second interval when the fourth line was caught out for 2 minutes. Of the saves made, the cease on Wennberg confirmed how dialed in Samsonov is. Jaden Schwartz tried to faux the shot on him however Samsonov learn the play and tracked the puck over to the proper aspect.

sturdy learn from Samsonov on this save

— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 27, 2023

For those who want a closing piece of proof as to why Samsonov deserves this primary star, I’ll provide you with one quantity: a .963 save share.

Second star 

Mitch Marner 

One other day, one other recreation of Marner being magical on the ice. He had at the least three feeds from under the pink line to a participant in the slot or up excessive for a scoring likelihood. His move to Liljegren was notably spectacular as he moved the puck round Grubauer’s follow Liljegren. Moreover, the passing play on Matthews’ second of the evening was calculated and completely timed. We had been additionally gifted with one other artistic block from Marner with out a stick on the penalty kill.

a true magician would not want a wand

his title is Mitch Marner

— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 27, 2023

Marner’s three assists on the evening have him in the highest 10 of league scoring and with video games left, 100 isn’t too far off.

Third star 

Auston Matthews


As all the time, the defensive work was there for Matthews tonight however the return of that harmful line from final season and earlier in the 12 months noticed him go away with two objectives. The stick lifts, whereas in movement, catch so many gamers off guard, together with Jamie Oleksiak who misplaced maintain of his as Matthews blew previous him to get in place for his purpose.



— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 27, 2023

Matthews’ second of the evening is what has made this line so deadly. He is aware of the place to go and what path to take whereas maintaining with the play and leaving his stick on the ice. It’s that simple.



— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 27, 2023

Participant reviews


Timothy Liljegren

Liljegren does all of the stuff you need to see in a top-four cell defenceman. He handles and comprises gamers in harmful areas and he jumps up from the purpose when the chance presents itself and will get again in time to thwart odd-man rushes towards. One thing I observed a lot tonight was Liljegren’s potential to get to free pucks first in the impartial zone to both circle them again to a Leaf in the defensive zone or dump it in for a change. That’s all of the positives with out mentioning the purpose, his fifth of the season off a nice learn and a strong feed.


A magical feed from Marner

— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 27, 2023

Michael Bunting 

A a lot better recreation from Bunting tonight. I believed he was in the combat and in the battles extra and most significantly, he received these battles for his line. Marner did a good job organising possibilities, however Bunting was doing a good job alongside the boards getting pucks from Seattle or being a deterrent whereas others fished the puck out of scrums.


Mark Giordano 

Historical past was made for the 39-year-old veteran as he made his 2045th shot block on the 14:17 mark of the second interval. Nothing flashy or dramatic as we’ve seen in video games previous, however a easy cease with his legs that he instantly changed into a chance for the Leafs to exit the zone.

Mark Giordano makes historical past

2045 blocks

— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 27, 2023

The confetti continued to fall for Giordano when he tied the sport in the primary interval. Ship the puck on web, and good issues will occur.


Throw pucks on web and see what occurs!

— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 27, 2023

William Nylander 

Nylander received on the scoresheet shortly with two assists in the opening interval. The road with O’Reilly and Tavares is a totally different look however one which I believe can work long-term. Nylander nonetheless received his touches with the puck and had stretches displaying his power on the puck. Moreover, pace to get possession of the puck off the draw might be one thing that actually works in the Leafs’ favour, particularly with how good O’Reilly is at profitable them.

John Tavares 

The captain has already tied his season complete from final season with video games to spare.


The captain strikes for his twenty seventh

— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 27, 2023

Even whether it is a short-lived experiment, Tavares has been nice to observe on the wing. The vitality he brings enjoying down the center hasn’t waivered and he fights for these open areas and continues to pile up scoring possibilities for himself.

Ryan O’Reilly

O’Reilly’s work in the faceoff circle has been stellar since becoming a member of the Leafs. He’s additionally a pleasure to observe defensively. The paths he chooses to take as he assesses who on the Leafs goes the place is unbelievable and it’s not stunning to see him in the proper spot time and time once more.


Rasmus Sandin 

A fantastic return from harm for Sandin. He could not have had his title known as out from the printed, however he was nice in the impartial zone, particularly forward of Matthews’ first of the sport.

Noel Acciari

Morgan Geekie should’ve actually hated Acciari after this one. Why? As a result of he received 9 of his 10 faceoffs. It additionally looks like he wins each puck battle and makes the opposition really feel sorry for attempting to get in his approach. Case and level: Jared McCann.

McCann bumped into a wall named Noel Acciari

— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 27, 2023


T.J. Brodie 

Brodie’s had a powerful run in the turnover division in addition to he had the preliminary turnover that stored the puck in the Leafs’ zone when it was all Seattle to start out the sport.

Justin Holl

I’ve observed that Holl appears to make his greatest defensive performs sporadically. Considered one of them was when he did a good job sticking with Brandon Tanev and taking away any empty web alternative he might’ve had if he had the house to show and shoot. The bottom line is stringing collectively extra of these.

The third line

Jarnkrok-Kampf-Engvall mixed for 5 photographs on purpose and surprisingly, none of them got here from Järnkrok. He did, nonetheless, have essentially the most zip of the three with good rushes alongside the wall.


Alex Kerfoot 

Completed the evening with two photographs on purpose however his most harmful received’t be recorded wherever because it was off of Eeli Tolvanen forcing Martin Jones to make a point-blank cease.

Zach Aston-Reese

Getting his photographs and his hits in. So long as they don’t proceed to be penalties, we’re in the clear!


Morgan Rielly 

There have been approach too many moments when Rielly turned the puck over when dealing with stress from the opposition. Typically, he would get better from it and clamp down on empty our bodies (e.g. his protection of Wennberg in the second), but it surely was a key issue in Seattle producing time in the offensive zone. And to make issues worse, they scored off a type of turnovers as Rielly despatched a puck proper up by means of the center which was picked up simply and moved to Vince Dunn for the purpose.

Recreation Rating 

Last grade: A-

The opening shift was regarding. The Leafs began off down 0-4 in photographs however turned it round in their favour happening to complete the interval with 20. The staff is constant to adapt to the groups they’ve in entrance of them. The Kraken had been attempting to play a explicit type and the Leafs labored by means of and round it. Nevertheless, Ilya Samsonov got here up huge for them. The 2 groups had been just about even at 5v5 when it got here to photographs and scoring possibilities however Seattle received two power-play alternatives that they weren’t capable of convert on.

Folks could evaluate Samsonov’s play to different positionally-sound goaltenders and say that he’s a little too acrobatic in the crease. I noticed a goaltender who was centered and monitoring the puck with wonderful precision. The Kraken tried to faux Samsonov twice off of a shot-turned-pass and he stropped them every time. In no way was goaltending the one distinction maker; it undoubtedly helps when your greatest gamers are your greatest gamers and hopefully that is the spark Matthews must go on a run. Nonetheless, Samsonov seems to be unbeatable when he performs like this and that has to make the staff really feel good.

What’s subsequent for the Leafs? 

The Leafs finish February with a 6-3-0 report and begin March persevering with their highway journey towards Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday evening at 8:00 p.m. on Sportsnet Ontario.

(High photograph: Steph Chambers / Getty Pictures)

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