from Travis Yost of TSN,
We are two months into the regular season, and though there is still time for this to change, what the Toronto Maple Leafs are yielding from a ragtag goaltending tandem has been impressive. Considering the sizable pressure on the Maple Leafs front office to deliver a Stanley Cup contender that can advance beyond the first round of the playoffs, banking on an injury-prone underperformer in Matt Murray and an unknown in Ilya Samsonov was risky.
What’s interesting about Toronto’s decision to dress Murray and Samsonov behind an otherwise talented lineup is that much of it was born from economic headwinds within the league. The league’s slowed salary cap growth, stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, pinched a number of top-spending teams, including Toronto. Combine that with a weak summer goaltending market, and Dubas’ options were limited.
Considering their skating talent advantage over most teams in the league, the Maple Leafs didn’t need the Murray-Samsonov tandem to be anything more than average – at least during the regular season. But even managing through injuries, it has held up incredibly well.
A fascinating part about Toronto’s first two months is, on the surface, you wouldn’t know the goaltending has outperformed relative to expectations. Toronto’s aggregate performance is actually underwhelming relative to the prior two seasons – true if you are looking at actual goal-scoring rates, or expected goal-scoring rates: