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Maple Leafs at Coyotes preview: the Auston Matthews show

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The Leafs cannot possibly lose to the Coyotes again...Can they?

Toronto Maple Leafs v Edmonton Oilers
All eyes will be on Auston Matthews as he looks to impress in his hometown.
Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

The Maple Leafs play the worst team in the NHL tonight, which is scheduled to begin well after Mitch Marner’s usual bedtime. The Coyotes have yet to reach the double digits in the win column, but they did come away with a 4-1 victory in Toronto back in November. Losing to Arizona once again would be just slightly infuriating.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Arizona Coyotes

9:00PM - Gila River Arena

TV: Sportsnet Ontario, NHL Live

SBN: Five For Howling

Expected Lines

Forwards:

Zach Hyman- Auston Matthews- William Nylander

Patrick Marleau- Nazem Kadri- Leo Komarov

James van Riemsdyk- Tyler Bozak- Mitch Marner

Matt Martin- Dominic Moore- Connor Brown

Defence:

Morgan Rielly- Ron Hainsey

Jake Gardiner- Connor Carrick

Andreas Borgman- Roman Polak

Goalie:

Frederik Andersen

Forwards:

Brendan Perlini- Derek Stepan- Tobias Rieder

Clayton Keller- Max Domi- Christian Fischer

Lawson Crouse- Christian Dvorak- Josh Archibald

Jordan Martinook- Nick Cousins- Anthony Duclair

Defence:

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Jason Demers

Jakob Chychrun- Alex Goligoski

Kevin Connauton- Luke Schenn

Goalie:

Scott Wedgewood

The Coyotes are awful. They rank last in the NHL at 5-on-5 in shot-attempt differential (CF%), goal differential (GF%), and expected goal differential (xGF%). Their powerplay is weak, and their penalty kill is simply around league average. Niklas Hjalmarsson is out of the lineup due to injury, Dylan Strome is buried in the minors, and their coach is hardly playing Anthony Duclair.

Arizona also played last night in Colorado, while the Leafs are well-rested. All the ingredients are in place for success, and it is up to the Leafs to go out and dominate against a weak opponent. Duclair will be particularly interesting to watch, as Elliott Friedman mentioned that Arizona is “working to find him a fresh start” in his latest edition of 31 Thoughts.

The Coyotes will likely look to get Stepan’s line matched-up against Auston Matthews, and Ekman-Larsson and Demers form a fantastic shutdown pairing. The rest of the Coyotes lineup is awful, and the Leafs boast the skill to capitalize. Clayton Keller is extremely talented, but his centre is currently Max Domi, so this line likely boasts major issues in the defensive end. If I was coaching the Leafs, I would look to get Matthews out against the Domi line as much as possible.

Lawson Crouse, who ranked ahead of Mitch Marner on NHL Central Scouting’s 2015 Final Draft Rankings, found his way into the lineup after Zac Rinaldo was suspended. Marner will also get to face-off against his former OHL line-mate in Christian Dvorak, while James van Riemsdyk will go up against the player he was traded for in Luke Schenn.

Enjoy the game.