Auston Matthews returns to his hometown Wednesday night as the Toronto Maple Leafs (23-8-3) visit the Arizona Coyotes (7-23-3). The reigning Rocket Richard Trophy winner has two goals in four career trips to the desert. These teams are headed in opposite directions with the Leafs in win-now mode and the Coyotes building for the future.
Opening Odds Analysis
The Maple Leafs are huge favorites in this game and the total opened at 5.5 but has gotten as high as 6.5 at some sites. Bettors are certainly favoring the OVER and why not. The Leafs have the best power-play percentage in the NHL (tied with Edmonton) while Arizona has taken the second-most penalties in the league and is 29th in penalty killing. This could get ugly!
Toronto News & Notes
The Leafs are coming off an emotional 4-3 shootout victory over Vegas last night and now have points in six straight games. Their odds to win the Stanley Cup sit at +750.
Matthews is starting to light the lamp on a consistent basis. He has 16 goals in his last 14 games and has found the back of the net in eight consecutive road games, tying a franchise record. He is now tied for third in the NHL with 23 goals, just three behind leader Leon Draisaitl. The line on Matthews to win another goal-scoring title is +300.
Vezina Trophy candidate Jack Campbell will get the night off, meaning Petr Mrazek will get the nod for the Leafs. He has been limited to just three starts this season due to injury. Mrazek is 2-1 with a goals-against average north of four and a save percentage of .880.
Mitch Marner, who has missed the past two games after being placed in COVID-19 protocol last Friday, is questionable to return for tonight’s game.
Arizona News & Notes
Reports of the Coyotes cleaning house to sign Auston Matthews to a maximum deal in 2024 when he becomes an unrestricted free agent are gaining steam. The team currently has only three players under contract past that season. But that is still over two years away and until then, there will be some struggles.
The Coyotes currently sit second last in goals per game, averaging 2.18, and are dead last in goals against per game, giving up 3.79. Arizona has the worst points percentage in the NHL at .258 and is tied with Montreal for the fewest wins (7).
To make matters worse, goaltender Scott Wedgewood and defencemen Jakob Chychrun and Anton Stralman were placed in COVID-19 protocol Monday, as was head coach Andre Tourigny. None will be available for this game.
The punchless Coyotes have managed to score six-plus goals in three of their last five games but have won just two of those contests.
How Toronto Will Win
This could be classified as your typical “letdown” game. The Leafs need to play their game and not take the Coyotes for granted, especially after playing against elite teams in their last two games and blowing multiple-goal leads in the third period of both.
How Arizona Will Win
Stay out of the penalty box. Numbers show they will not win the special teams battle in this one. They also need to take advantage of a potentially rusty Mrazek and get to him early. If they can do both of those things, there is a small chance for a big payout if you lay money down on the Coyotes.
Computer Pick: Maple Leafs ML (-300)
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