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I am a leaf on the wind

The Coyotes return to Gila River Arena after salvaging something from an ugly four game road trip. Their immediate reward is a matchup with the

Watch how I soar
Watch how I soar
Rob Carr

The first three games of the Coyotes most recent road trip were an abject disaster. Arizona lost all three and were outscored 12-4 in the process. The final loss was a shutout at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes, a team that had not won a game before that 3-0 victory. On Sunday evening, the Coyotes responded to one of, if not the worst loss in the Dave Tippet era by beating the Washington Capitals in D.C. The 6-5 victory was needed, both for the team and the fanbase. The outpouring of offense was nice but the defensive breakdowns and miscues continue. Can the Coyotes tighten up in their own end and keep the mojo running offensively as they return home to take on the tradition laden Toronto Maple Leafs?

Matchup at a Glance

Arizona Coyotes Toronto Maple Leafs
Points 9 (7th Pacific) 13 (5th Atlantic)
Goals Per Game 2.54 (20th) 2.91 (11th)
Goals Against Per Game 3.73 (30th) 2.54 (15th)
Power Play Percentage 25.6% (4th) 16.7% (20th)
Penalty Kill Percentage 74.3%(27th) 81.0 (16th)
5 on 5 Fenwick For Percentage 49.8% (18th) 47.9% (24th)
PDO 94.6 (30th) 102.3 (5th)

The View From Arizona

The Coyotes made a roster move before the game against Washington on Sunday, calling up Tobias Reider from Portland. The hope was to shake things up and hopefully get the desert dogs out of their offensive morass. It may have helped, as the Yotes netted six goals, including two more on the power play. Reider himself scored what ended up being the game winner, joining Justin Hodgman as a player to score a goal in his NHL debut for Arizona this season. Speaking of Hodgman, he was sent back to Portland yesterday as Arizona recalled defenseman Brandon Gormley. Connor Murphy hasn't looked very good the last few games and one has to wonder if Gormley won't be a better fit playing alongside Oliver Ekman-Larsson right now.

Devan Dubnyk got the start in the nation's capitol, but that was more due to the back to back games on Saturday and Sunday. Dubnyk wasn't very good in allowing five goals on 37 shots. Mike Smith will likely be back in net tonight and he has to be hoping for better defense in front of him.

The Coyotes lost both matchups with the Leafs last season after winning six straight.

The View from Toronto

Toronto starts a short two game road trip tonight. The Leafs are playing well at the moment, winners of three in a row and four of five. They got a big win over the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night by a final score of 3-2. Former Coyote Daniel Winnik has seemingly found a home on the Leafs' top unit with Phil Kessel and Nazim Kadri. Winnik has a goal and four assists during Toronto's winning streak and is tied for third on the team with seven points.

The advanced stats don't favor Toronto's game, a fact that the Leafs have faced for years, but it doesn't seem to bother them. They rank in the bottom third in both Fenwick and Corsi for percentages and their PDO of 102.3 is fifth in the league, indicating they are lucky in their scoring chances. However, with quality snipers like Kessel, the injured Joffery Lupul, James Van Riemsdyk and Kadri, Toronto has the talent to keep their PDO high even with lower shot attempts.

James Reimer was stellar Saturday night against Chicago, stopping 45 of 47 shots. He's been impressive to start the season with a .929 sv% and 2.47 gaa. His numbers are better than Jonathan Bernier's right now, but Bernier is expected to be between the pipes against Arizona. The Leafs are lucky to have two better than average goalies, but successfully juggling their starts will be a challenge moving forward.

Keys to the Game

  • Shoot the puck. Toronto allows the fifth most shots per game in the league. Their goaltending has allowed them to survive that, but the Coyotes need to pepper them with shots. Quantity over quality.
  • Be special on special teams. The Coyotes power play continues to be a bright spot, but the penalty kill didn't have a very good road trip, allowing five goals on eleven chances. Fifty/fifty isn't the way to go.
  • Defense, defense, defense. DEFENSE please.

Who's Hot

Shane Doan had two goals for the Yotes against Washington including a huge momentum turning one with three seconds left in the second period. He also added an assist on the game winner.

Phil Kessel continues to be one of the elite goal scores in the league. He leads the team with six goals and eight assists in eleven games and he has four goals and five assists in the Leafs' last five games.

Injury Report

The Coyotes are still without David Moss, whose upper body injury has him on the injured reserve.

Toronto will be without the aforementioned Lupul (broken hand), Brandon Kozun (high ankle sprain) and David Booth (fractured foot).

Puck Drop

Welcome home, boys. Thanks to being back in the friendly confines of Glendale, the Coyotes will play at a decent time tonight. The game will start at 7 p.m. Arizona time, which thanks to the daylight savings switch on Sunday, is now in the Mountain time zone. So for all you out of town Coyote fans, make sure you set timers back one hour for the start of the game.