LGD – Staying hot in the desert

How much difference a week makes.

A week ago, everyone was going to get fired and traded. Now? The Leafs have won three in a row, have finally put their best centre and winger on the same line, and are looking to keep rolling. So it’s pretty darn appropriate that they are in the desert to play the Phoe-, Seatt–, Las Veg–, Arizona Coyotes tonight. Cause it’s hot in the desert. And the Leafs are hot right now. Get it? Okay good.

THE LEAFS

So the Leafs won two games against not-so-great teams (one team dressed an AHL lineup because they have an AHL-calibre team, while another dressed an AHL lineup because of injuries), and then lucked out a win against a really really good team. It’s hard to evaluate the Leafs, and a win tonight won’t really help (because Arizona is bad). 

Lupul remains out, and the Leafs have looked fine without him. Sustained success without him could lead to him being moved methinks. 

The top line has been fantastic, and I’d expect them to look good again tonight against a Coyotes team that has forgotten how to defend somehow. The second line has been better than anticipated and Holland looked killer on that third line, which continued to dominate on the cycle. Maybe tonight is the night the fourth line gets a few more min–hahahahahaha. 

Projected Lines via DailyFaceoff.com

Winnik – Kadri – Kessel

van Riemsdyk – Bozak – Clarkson

Komarov – Santorelli – Holland

Panik – Carrick – Ashton

Phaneuf – Franson

Rielly – Polak

Gardiner – Robidas

THE COYOTES

It’s looking like this could be the year where the Coyotes finally don’t exceed expectations. They’ve been really bad so far this year, but most concerning to Don Maloney has to be the team’s inability to play defensive hockey, which has been their bread and butter for years. Maloney has threatened change if things don’t turn around. 

But hey, maybe letting your best offensive player go without getting anything in return and signing a very average goalie to a long-term deal isn’t smart. 

On a positive note, the Yotes could finally get that game-changing F they’ve been looking for for so long. I, of course, mean via the draft. Because the Yotes are bad.

Projected Lines via DailyFaceoff.com

Rieder – Vermette – Doan

Erat – Hanzal – Hodgman

Korpikoski – Gagner – Boedker

McMillan – Vitale – Crombeen
Ekman-Larsson – Michalek

Yandle – Stone

Summers – Murphy

STARTING GOALIES AND HOW THEY USE THEIR HOCKEY STICKS

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

– The Kadri-Kessel experience. Kadri stuck with the process, and it is finally paying off. This is why process, not outcome, needs to be celebrated more.
– The Coyotes actually have a couple interesting forwards to watch: Mikkel Boedker, and ex-Oiler/recent callup Tobias Rieder who scored in his debut. 
Sam Gagner has three points this year. Remember when he got 8 in a game?
– Look for Arizona to have a very active D, which leads to chances on both ends. Should be a fun one.