Arizona Coyotes at Toronto Maple Leafs:
Time: 7:00 PM ET
Location: Scotiabank Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: NHLN, SN, FS-A Plus
Opponent SBNation Site: Five for Howling
In the land of hockey, one does not hope or wish to “destroy” or “embarrass” an opponent. You go in, play well, get a 2-1 or 3-1 decision, add two points to the standings, and be off on your merry way. That’s swell and all, but the Leafs need two things from tonight’s match: they need to win and they need to win big.
Friday’s loss to the Florida Panthers was their sixth in ten games, and it’s allowed in the Atlantic Division to catch up. The Montreal Canadiens for example are only a single point behind the Leafs and even the New York Islanders have managed to make it to 60. But the rest of that doesn’t matter as much. Boston being one point behind as well is concerning given the goal of the season has transitioned from ‘dominate the league’ to ‘ensure home-ice in the first-round.’
Although the team has played well in some of those losses, the results have been on a not-so-nice rollercoaster. And here is where a call to action is in need.
The game against Tampa Bay saw Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau end some scoring slumps, and the Leafs need more of that. Auston Matthews looks to be on the brink of potting six goals in a row given the wave of bad luck he’s found himself in. You can see the frustration from him on the ice and some of his comments may hint at a breaking point.
Matthews on poor puck luck: "Sooner or later, I'm too good of a player for these chances to continue to come along & not capitalize on them. So, for me, it's obviously frustrating, but just got to keep it going & just keep working harder"— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) January 19, 2019
1 goal in last 12 games for Auston
It’s not only Matthews. William Nylander needs to get going, the team defence needs to get going, and Mitch Marner needs to stop going or we won’t be able to afford him (just kidding, fly, Mitchell, fly).
Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - Connor Brown
Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Kasperi Kapanen
Par Lindholm - Frederik Gauthier - William Nylander
Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott - Igor Ozhiganov
Frederik Andersen (starter)
Jake Gardiner will not play tonight due to back spasms. He is listed as day-to-day. #LeafsForever— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) January 20, 2019
Martin Marincin will play tonight, not word yet on the pairing arrangements.
Clayton Keller - Jordan Weal - Christian Fischer
Richard Panik - Derek Stepan - Vinnie Hinostroza
Alex Galchenyuk - Nick Cousins - Conor Garland
Lawson Crouse - Mario Kempe - Josh Archibald
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Jakob Chychrun - Ilya Lyubushkin
Jordan Oesterle - Alex Goligoski
Leafs vs. Senators
|185 GF - 146 GA - + 39||Goal Differential||159 GF - 194 GA - -35|
|21.2% - 13th||Power Play||21.1% - 14th|
|80.5% - 14th||Penalty Kill||76.4% - 27th|
|John Tavares - 31||Most Goals||Mark Stone - 22|
|Mitch Marner - 43||Most Assists||Thomas Chabot/Mark Stone - 29|
|Mitch Marner - 63||Most Points||Mark Stone - 51|
|Hyman - 48||Most PIM||Mark Borowiecki - 79|
|Morgan Rielly - 22:43||TOI Leader||Thomas Chabot - 24:02|
|Frederik Andersen - .923 Sv%||Starting Goaltender||Craig Anderson - .906 Sv%|
It’s the perfect time in the schedule to take on a club like the Coyotes. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be a complete cake-walk.
The poor state of the Western Conference, in particular the Pacific Division, has Arizona within arms reach of a playoff spot. They’re currently five points out and haven’t had the worst record lately going 5-3-2 in their last ten. That’s a recipe for determination out of a club hoping to turn things around.
Another thing to make note of, which may worry the Leafs a bit, is Arizona’s top-ranked penalty kill. There is a bit of magical dust around it, though. The Coyotes are one of the least penalized teams in the league being shorthanded 140 times so far. Sure they’ve only allowed 18 goals in those opportunities but it isn’t unbreakable.
Ask the Pittsburgh Penguins who scored twice on the powerplay in their last game against Arizona, including the overtime game-winning goal.
In homage to Team Four Star, I finish with this: You are more than just our team. You are the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now plant your feet, grit your teeth, and eat that horse!
In other words, win please.