Phoenix Coyotes @ Toronto Maple Leafs preview: Leafs of Winter

Bruce Bennett

The Coyotes take on the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first time since Nov. 2011 and for the first of two meetings in four weeks with hopes of snapping their now two-game slide.

These last few nights have been rife with disappointments, falling to fifth in the division, losing two straight, and in tough 3-1 losses. But, this isn't the Phoenix Coyotes or the Toronto Maple Leafs it's both of them. Tonight's matchup will be one of the most evenly matched in a while and is a must win for both teams.


Phoenix Coyotes

Toronto Maple Leafs

Points

41 (5th in Pacific)

37 (5th in Atlantic)

Shots Against (per game)

33.2 (26th in NHL)

35.9 (30th in NHL)

Penalty Kill Percentage

77.3 (T-26th in NHL)

77.3 (T-26th in NHL)

Faceoff Percentage

52.4 (6th in NHL)

46.7 (27th in NHL)

The Phoenix Coyotes

We're nearing the middle of the season and it's starting to get into that grind-y time. Players are injured, others are tired but it's also when the most effort needs to be put forward. Since the team's four day rest period in November, they have played 12 games and only won four of them. Including the two overtime losses, the Coyotes have only managed 10 points out of a possible 24. December has not been their month. But, in Toronto there is hope of a brighter future. A win here will likely set the tone for the rest of the road trip and could help bring back a solid team to the job in time for their Dec. 27 meeting with the San Jose Sharks. However, this isn't going to be an easy feat.

The Toronto Maple Leafs

After losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Florida Panthers, and having lost eight of their last 10, the Leafs are in a similar situation. With multiple players on the injured list and some important divisional games coming up, it's important that Toronto pull off a win to set the tone for their holiday season. And what would they like for Christmas? More than anything else an effective penalty kill. They currently sit at 26th in the league on the PK, tied with Phoenix. However, their goaltending has been amazing. They lead the league with 35.9 shots against per game an astounding number with them sitting a full shot and a half above the next highest and six over the 29.9 league average. That just might be what this game comes down to, when two teams with high shots against and good defensive cores face off, it just might be the goaltender that makes all the difference.

Keys to the Game

  • Power Play- So far this season, the Coyotes are ranked eighth overall on the PP but haven't been showing it the last few games. If they want to beat a tough Toronto team that is looking for a win, power play goals will be a must.
  • Penalty Kill- It's what killed the Coyotes on Tuesday night and it's what could kill them against the Leafs. The white and blue have registered three power play goals in their last three games and the Coyotes allowed two against Montreal alone. Playoff teams are made and broken over this stat and if it doesn't come under control soon (i.e. not tied for 26th in the league) it will be a serious issue.
  • Faceoffs- The Yotes have done great all season long holding their own in the circle, Toronto not so much, they're 27th. With the help of Antoine Vermette and Mike Ribeiro the Coyotes could easily capitalize on this and turn even difficult situations into scoring chances.

Players to Watch


Mikkel Boedker

#89 / Right Wing / Phoenix Coyotes

6-0

211

Dec 16, 1989



G A P +/- PIM
2013 - Mikkel Boedker 10 12 22 0 12

Mikkel Boedker: Four points in the last four games isn't too shabby and with three goals off twelve shots during that time it might just be Boeds that has the puck going from tape to net.


Mason Raymond

#12 / Left Wing / Toronto Maple Leafs

6-0

185

Sep 17, 1985



G A P +/- PIM
2013 - Mason Raymond 11 14 25 3 14

Mason Raymond: With six points in the last four games Raymond is on a streak that could have him on the scoreboard against Phoenix.

Projected Starting Goaltenders


Mike Smith

#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes

6-4

215

Mar 22, 1982



GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2013 - Mike Smith 19 1107 12 3 53 2.87 637 584 .917 0

Mike Smith: He played well against the Carolina Hurricanes and the Montreal Canadiens but it just wasn't enough to get the team two points. He is also one of only four goaltenders in the NHL with 20-plus games and no shutout. Did I just jinx him?


Jonathan Bernier

#45 / Goalie / Toronto Maple Leafs

6-0

185

Aug 07, 1988


GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2013 - Jonathan Bernier 24 1351 10 11 57 2.53 764 707 .925 1

Jonathan Bernier: Bernier has only gotten two wins in his last five outings but has won two out of three times in his career against the Coyotes, including a shutout in February 2011.

Injury Report

Shane Doan remains out due to illness and Lauri Korpikoski remains on injured reserve. Meanwhile for the Leafs Dave Bolland, Tyler Bozak, Colton Orr and Trevor Smith are all injured with defenseman Paul Ranger as questionable.

Puck Drop

The puck will be hitting center ice at 5 p.m. Arizona time which means it may not be too late for you to get there...come on...Christmas present to yourself...or you could just watch it on FOX Sports Arizona or listen to it on KMVP 860AM if you're in more of a radio mood...I find these last two options to be the more economical route.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Five For Howling

You must be a member of Five For Howling to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Five For Howling. You should read them.

Join Five For Howling

You must be a member of Five For Howling to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Five For Howling. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker