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Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov looks back as Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman (77) scores during first period in Toronto on Nov. 6.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

The cliché vision of a Russian goalie is a puck-stopping robot whose emotional affect never varies from the baseline. Even after the most gruesome losses, you never feel like it’s getting to them.

It’s clearly getting to Ilya Samsonov. After being pulled again for being as porous as cheesecloth, the Leafs goalie had a flailing meltdown at the bench. It’s hard to freak out in 50 pounds of goalie pads, but Samsonov tried his best.

Then he was forced to sit there for two periods watching his backup charm the crowd. Joseph Woll’s charismatic secret? He stands still in front of shots, rather than sliding around the crease like he’s trying to rub a hole in the ice.

On the basis of seven outings so far, Samsonov appears to have lost all sense of where his body is in relation to the net. He sports an .855 save percentage. If you laid flat on the ice with your arms extended above you, you could probably hit .800.

At the beginning of Monday night’s game against Tampa, there was still a world in which Samsonov could claim to the be the club’s No. 1. Around the time the Scotiabank Arena crowd was ole’ing him for stopping a puck dumped on net from centre ice, that ship had sunk. He’s the backup now.

The Leafs make two kinds of goalies – Hall of Famers and three-million-buck-a-year paperweights. Samsonov has become the latter.

Samsonov was one of many pieces of contractual business the Leafs did over the off-season. His predecessor, Matt Murray, was disappeared into injury-related witness protection. Rather than look for another top guy, the Leafs gave Samsonov a 250-per-cent raise and called it a day.

On the basis of roughly half a season, the player who’d spent years leaking goals in Washington was forgotten. This was a new Samsonov. Until it wasn’t. Now he’s looking like the latest recruitment goof – a real spécialité de la maison with this club.

Based on early returns, the Leafs made one undeniably good transaction in the off-season – re-signing Auston Matthews.

If it weren’t for Matthews, Toronto would be in Edmonton’s position right now – fighting itself and its own fans in addition to its opponents. Currently, Matthews has more goals than the San Jose Sharks.

Every other move? Somewhere between “the jury’s not just out, but asking for someone to order in breakfast” and plain bad.

Ryan Reaves was brought in to add functional brutality. After watching Brad Marchand can-open Timothy Liljegren onto the injury list, his contribution to the cause was a very squinty look aimed directly at the Bruins bench.

Tyler Bertuzzi was signed to contribute a grit-offence combo. You could argue about the grit, but the offence is absent. Bertuzzi has gone from the first line to the fourth. At this rate of descent, he may soon be demoted to assistant coach.

Max Domi – same story, but not even one lousy goal.

At least with the newbies, there is the excuse that they were brought in from an outside firm. The interview process can be misleading. What’s the excuse with David Kampf? After getting a nice, long look at him, the Leafs gave Kampf a four-year deal. In return, he has agreed to show up every night and wear a uniform. That’s about it.

Twenty people on the bench is a lot of players. They can’t all be the difference maker. If they were, there’d never be any difference.

Every team needs a few guys who are just that – guys. People who go out there against the other team’s guys for a minute or so, giving the stars from both sides a breather.

Unfortunately for the Leafs, this year’s roster is made up almost entirely of guys. Guys who don’t do anything special. They’re just out there occupying space.

Making it in Toronto is easy. You don’t have to do anything wild. Just go out there and hit anything that moves. When there’s a ruckus, grab hold of someone and shake him a bit. You don’t need to fill highlight reels. Just look like you care.

So far, none of the Leafs’ sub-stars can manage that. They don’t score. They don’t defend. They don’t intimidate.

This was supposed to be the new, tougher Leafs. They look tougher to you? Or just bigger? There’s a difference.

So every night, it’s on the top four plus Morgan Rielly to win games.

So far, that’s working out. Sort of. Monday’s contest was a case study. The Leafs were booed off the ice at the end of the first period, and they were saluted off it after winning in overtime. The come-from-behind nature of the contest papered over all of the Leafs’ problems, which are legion. Samsonov is only the most obvious.

It works when Matthews scores a hat trick every third game, and William Nylander swings around the rink like Guy Lafleur. Years of evidence suggest that model is not sustainable in the postseason.

When it comes down to it, you need your guys to be more than just guys. Third lines tip playoff series. Nothing that’s happened so far has suggested that is likely to happen here.

Meanwhile, the salaries of the elite players are going up, so there’s less money to pay for new guys.

As currently constructed, it’s always going to be the case that the Leafs can beat you in five minutes of game time. They have that top-end talent. But grind you out over 60? Outlast you when the big guys aren’t feeling it? Bully you into submission?

We hear a lot about that version of the Leafs. We’ve yet to see it.

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