Toronto Maple Leafs @ Arizona Coyotes
9:00 PM ET at Mullett Arena
Watch on: BSAZ, SNO
Opponent’s Site: Five For Howling
The Leafs last game was an away game on December 27 against the St. Louis Blues, which Toronto won by a score of 5-4. The Leafs have a record of 22-7-6 so far.
The Arizona Coyotes last played at home on December 27 against the Colorado Avalanche. The Coyotes won by a score of 6-3, and their current league record is 12-16-5.
Tonight is going to be a battle between Former Leafs and Former Coyotes, because while the Yotes have a fair number of the Leafs off-cuts, the Leafs have emigrated quite a bit of talent from Arizona.
Tonight’s Battle Royale will be between Travis Boyd, Michael Carcone, and Nick Ritchie on one side, and Michael Bunting, Conor Timmins, and Auston Matthews on the other.
But it’s probably likely we get another annoying Arizona game where the Leafs casually dominate but can’t score and ultimately lose when they eventually push with only a few minutes left in the game.
I have a belief that the Arizona Coyotes, who have a winning record (10-8-2) against teams in the Eastern Conference, win only when the other team forgets they exist. Because even with a winning record against the East, they’ve still been out-scored by them 34-41, so they lose big when the other team remembers to show up, or they win a close, antithesis of sport annoying game like the Leafs know all too well.
I had a longer article idea in mind as to why the draft capital the Coyotes always seem to have never seems to turn into anything. Even the reclamation projects like the two in Toronto succeed only once they leave. The long and short of it is that the Coyotes have no money to afford to keep the talent they have. Occasionally they can make big bets for long term on some guys, with varying degrees of success (1LW and 3RW), but it’s never enough to make the team competitive enough to feel competitive enough.
In the NHL, you can’t make a WJC team with young stars everywhere and waiver pickups everywhere else. You need established stars to take on some of the load and win minutes. Otherwise it’s just a conveyor belt of one first round pick coming in every year and one first round pick leaving when their contract is up.
This is just a sad team, who might beat the Leafs tonight, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a sad team.
Oh, and they’re renting a college rink for their games. Yeah, that’s still happening.
Source: Last Game: (12/27) via Daily Faceoff
Clayton Keller - Travis Boyd - Nick Schmaltz
Michael Carcone - Nick Bjugstad - Lawson Crouse
Nick Ritchie - Barrett Hayton - Christian Fischer
Josh Brown - Jack McBain - Zack Kassian
Jakob Chychrun - Shayne Gostisbehere
Juuso Valimaki - J.J. Moser
Patrik Nemeth - Troy Stecher
Karel Vejmelka - unconfirmed starter
Conor Timmins is sitting on six points in nine games (nice) this season with the Leafs. His career high in points and games played was seven points in 31 games with Colorado. Wouldn’t it be nice for Timmins to score his first career NHL goal and break his career high in points against the team where he was pointless in eight games for them the last two years? I would very much like to see that.
Meanwhile Michael Bunting, the hidden talent the Coyotes forgot they wanted to keep, has five goals and nine points in his last 10 games. He is also 13 points away from 100 with the Leafs. I say he does it tonight.
We’ve been waiting for the Auston Matthews floodgates to open for quite a while now. Surely tonight is the night? A couple goals, maybe an assist or two for Willy who’s been the scoring talent on that line this season. That would be nice.
On the lineup itself, Morgan Rielly makes his return from a knee injury that made him miss 15 games. Despite missing that time, Rielly is still fifth on the team in assists behind Marner and the Big Four.
Michael Bunting - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Calle Järnkrok - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Alex Kerfoot - David Kämpf - Pierre Engvall
Zach Aston-Reese - Pontus Holmberg - Dryden Hunt
Morgan Rielly - Timothy Liljegren
Mark Giordano - Justin Holl
TJ Brodie - Conor Timmins
Matt Murray - confirmed starter
I guess part of Sheldon’s reprimand also included saying this for Gary.
Keefe on tonight: "It’s a little more intimate of course, and should make for a little more intensity to the whole thing. It'll be interesting to see how many Leaf fans are here and what that might do for the atmosphere." #Leafs— Terry Koshan 🇺🇦 (@koshtorontosun) December 29, 2022
How many Leafs fans will be in attendance tonight at the 4,600 seat Mullett Arena