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Game Preview: Maple Leafs @ Scottless Coyotes

Only a few hours ahead of the NHL's Christmas break, The Leafs squeeze in the second half of back-back games in the Western Conference.

Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Maple Leafs @ Coyotes
A galaxy far far away.
9:00PM EST
TSN 4 (blackouts in effect)
Rabid Animal Territory:
Five For Howling

The Leafs' Offence is on Fire

The Leafs have scored 20 goals in the last 4 games. Its been exciting, which is not at all an adjective I anticipated using to describe this seasons team.

Leo Komarov

32 games into the season, Komarov leads The Leafs in both points and goals. He also leads in hits. Uncle Leo is demonstrating that he really is the elusive "complete player". Is he going to maintain this the whole season? Probably not, but even dialed back he will be a great asset.

Komarov is frequently playing JvR's favourite role of crashing the net, shoving around the defenders, and flipping in loose pucks. It's working for him. Komarov and JvR are about the same weight, 200 pounds, but JvR is 4 inches taller. Clearly Komarov has a lot of weight to throw around out there, and he absolutely is doing just that.

We all love Uncle Leo, but should he stay or be traded? We tackled this question earlier today.

Unpopular Opinion: It's Time To Trade Leo Komarov - Pension Plan Puppets
The Leafs have to manage their assets more efficiently (ruthlessly?) if they want to be a great team.

James van Riemsdyk

Did you honestly expect a preview written by would not praise JvR? Our favourite mouthguard chewing aficionado is right behind Komarov in goals and points. According to War On Ice, with his not that high 10% shooting percentage for the season, JvR has the most 'Scoring Chances For/60; of all skaters on the team at even strength, though he trails Gardiner and Boyes for 'High Danger Scoring Chance For/60'. There's just something so exciting watching him barreling to the front of the goal, shoving himself at everything in site, and then having his way with the puck.

Jonathan Bernier vs. Antoine Bibeau

Bernier picked up another win last night, his second this season. He's had a mini-renaissance and no doubt launched the regression to the career mean, However this is the second half of a back to back on top of a grueling travel schedule. Will Babcock let Antoine Bibeau make his NHL debut tonight?

It looks like he won't.

What's Going on With The Coyotes?

Sitting with 32 points on the season, one would think The Coyotes are, like the Leafs, almost certainly already out of the playoffs. Then you would check the Pacific Division standings and laugh out loud.

With a 15-15-2 record and 32 points, the Yotes sit one win out of second place in the division, behind the Canucks with 33 points, and the Shorks at 34. They come tonight with 3 wins in their last 10 games. It's quite a reversal of fortunes for the previously feared Pacific division. Out side of Los Angeles, they all look like teams even the Leafs can roll. Note that the Leafs will return to the Pacific in early January for the formerly dreaded "California Road Trip".

Max Domi

Leading the Coyotes in goal is the son of a Leaf's legend. In his first NHL season Domi has 25 points in 32 games. He naturally scored when the Coyotes made their once a season visit to Toronto.

John Scott

Future All-Star John Scott was waived, probably at his request, because he was too scared to play against Komarov. With one point this season, he actually is 3rd on the Coyotes CF% (adjusted or not, all situations or not). He's made the most of his 3 minutes of ice time per game against the worst players in the league. It's kind of sad we won't get to see him tonight given the hilarity of that infamous 2012 game @ The Sabres.

Leafs' Lines

Based on yesterday's lines, changed only for the above note:

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - P.A. Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov
Daniel Winnik - Peter Holland - Joffrey Lupul
Shawn Matthias - Byron Froese - Brad Boyes

Jake Gardiner - Dion Phaneuf
Frank Corrado - Morgan Rielly
Martin Marincin - Roman Polak

Jonathan Bernier
Antoine Bibeau

Coyote's Lines

Someone on the Coyotes staff is still figuring out the rest. Hopefully he will share them before game time!

Can I trade celery to sign Poe Dameron?