A tough defensive effort led the team to victory in front of young goalie Louis Domingue. Now the Coyotes will try to boost their young netminder's surging confidence as they play the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at Gila River Arena.
Matchup at a Glance
|Toronto Maple Leafs||Arizona Coyotes|
|Points||31 (8th Atlantic)||32 (4th Pacific)|
|Goals For||2.53 (20th)||2.72 (10th)|
|Goals Against||2.69 (20th)||3.19 (29th)|
|Power Play||20.6% (T-9th)||14.9% (28th)|
|Penalty Kill||78.6% (21st)||81.9% (11th)|
|5v5 Corsi For||49.7% (T-15th)||47.4% (25th)|
|PDO||100.6 (11th)||100.9 (10th)|
View from Toronto
For more on the Toronto Maple Leafs, check out Pension Plan Puppets
The first year of the Mike Babcock Era in Toronto has gone roughly as expected; the Leafs are adjusting to life without Phil Kessel as they embark on a painful yet necessary rebuild.
Of late the biggest storyline out of Toronto has been the goaltending controversy between James Reimer, Garret Sparks, and Jonathan Bernier. Bernier received a "conditioning assignment" in the AHL after a brutal year in net for the Leafs. He's currently 2-8-3 with a .889 save percentage and a 3.22 GAA.
What the Leafs do in net moving forward is still up in the air, as last season it was Reimer scuffling while Bernier cleaned up. Sparks looked good in limited action, but goaltending at a young age is notoriously hard to evaluate. The Leafs will likely continue to ride Reimer so long as he stays healthy and plays well.
View from Arizona
Arizona's last four games have been a case-study in polar extremes. In their two wins, the Coyotes gave up one goal while only scoring three. In their two losses, the Coyotes gave up twelve goals while scoring nine.
Despite a 2-6-1 record in the month of December, the Coyotes are still hanging around the Pacific Division. With games against the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks looming large on the horizon, this is a game the Coyotes need to come away from with two points.
Keys to the Game
- Whatever You Did Against New York, Do It Again - The path to victory against the Islanders was not particularly convoluted. The Coyotes made good choices in the defensive end, and avoided taking multiple ill-timed penalties. That usually translates into victories, so the Coyotes need to do it again.
- Make Toronto Beat You - The Leafs can still score goals, and their power play is surprisingly resilient. The Coyotes need to avoid giving up soft chances and easy rebounds.
- Interior Forechecking - If Arizona stays on the perimeter, they're going to have a hard time generating meaningful possession. If they can set up shop in the slot and around the faceoff dots, they will open up second chance opportunities.
Players to Watch
Leo Komarov is picking up where Phil Kessel left off. He has 15 goals and 9 assists in 32 games, and five goals and two assists in his last three games.
After a minor scoring slump, Tobias Rieder is back at it. He has a pair of goals and assists in his last four games for the Coyotes.
Toronto is unlikely to receive the services of either Nathan Horton or Stephane Robidas for the rest of the season. Nick Spaling and Garret Sparks are on injured reserve, while James Reimer is questionable for tonight's game.
Joe Vitale and Mike Smith remain on injured reserve, while Zbynek Michalek is considered questionable for tonight.
Tonight's game begins at 7 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.