LGD: Back off, Auston is ours

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I suppose this is how we feel whenever Connor McDavid rolls into town, at least until Nazem Kadri shuts him down. Tonight, Auston Matthews will get to hit the ice with his childhood Arizona Coyotes, though he’ll remain their opponent as he continues to play his role as the long-term face of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He will no doubt call this a “special” night, just like he describes everything. But he’ll probably mean it this time; here’s what to expect.

The Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

From the sounds of it, we won’t see too many changes tonight. Which is good; the Leafs held their own against a very good San Jose team. I’d be more willing to flip that coin again than to spend time searching for a new one.

The Coyotes

Arizona Coyotes lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

Auston getting a glimpse of home isn’t the only narrative at play here. It’s the return of Peter Holland! Just a few days after being traded to Arizona for a conditional pick, Holland already has a pair of assists to his name. The Coyotes also have former Leafs blue-chip prospect Luke Schenn hanging out in their defence corps, sitting in the six-spot next to rookie Jakob Chychrun. 

Starting Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen has been confirmed to guard the pipes once again for Toronto. He stopped 40 of 42 against San Jose, and despite being 1-3 in his last four, has a 0.933 SV% in that stretch. As pointed out by DFO, he’s got a career 5-0-3 record against Arizona with a 0.941 save percentage.

Mike Smith is expected to be in goal for the Coyotes. It’s been a very long time since he’s had a dominant year (his first in Arizona, back in 2012), but he’s well on his way again; while he’s won just 6 of his 15 appearances, he’s put up a 0.929 SV% in that time. Not bad for a 34-year-old!

What To Look Out For

No games in the NHL are a gimme, but after losing a few that they really should have had in their grasp, the Leafs should do their best to capitalize on this one. The Coyotes are decimated right now and were already one of the league’s weaker teams at full strength; not to mention, they need the points right now.

Puck drop is at 7:30. Catch the game on Sportsnet.

  • RedLightRaycroft

    Casually going to mention that Holland wears #13 for the ‘Yotes in honour of his favourite player (Sundin). Time to prepare for his 3 point game plus shootout winner tonight.

  • LukeDaDrifter

    With the pairity in the NHL there really are no easy games anymore. Arizona is only 3 points behind us in league standings. It seems all teams coming to play in Toronto are excited to play here. Toronto is a hockey mad city for sure. The Coyotes would like nothing better than to walk out of the ACC with 2 points in their pocket. Tomorrow they hope to bask in all the glory in the media, as the Toronto media states how they just hammered another nail in the Leafs playoff coffin.