The Arizona Coyotes have had three days off since dropping their last game 4-2 to the Nashville Predators. And they are going to have another challenging matchup tonight as they host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the final game of a four-game homestand.
Arizona fell behind early, and by the end of the first period, they were in a massive 3-0 hole. The Predators don’t give up a lot of goals, so if they take that kind of early lead, it will be hard to come back.
Credit to the Coyotes, they didn’t just give up. Arizona scored twice in the third period and pushed hard with an early pulled goaltender.
Tonight’s game will likely feature far fewer penalties than the Coyotes’ last game. Unlike both the Coyotes and Predators, the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the least penalized teams in the NHL. Despite playing one more game, Toronto has 188 fewer penalty minutes than the Coyotes.
Unfortunately, the Coyotes will be playing without a few more players. Monday, Arizona tweeted out that Scott Wedgewood, Jakob Chychrun, Cam Dinnen, and Anton Strålman, along with Head Coach André Tourigny and Goaltending Coach Corey Schwab, have been placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.
Chychrun was already injured, so that move doesn’t hurt the Coyotes too much. But both Dinnen and Strålman played in the Coyotes’ last game, with Strålman logging 21:49 and Dineen playing 17:47 and recording an assist.
Wedgewood hadn’t played since December 28th, when he gave up seven goals against the San Jose Sharks in a shootout loss, which means that rookie goaltender Karel Vejmelka will be getting his fourth straight start tonight.
Tonight’s game won’t be the first time we have seen teams play without their head coach this season, and it probably won’t be the last. But it is still early in the day, so there is a chance that tonight’s game could be postponed, as so many games have been this season.
The Maple Leafs have been good lately when their games haven’t been postponed. The Maple Leafs stopped playing last year after December 11th and have already seen two games postponed this month.
But, the Maple Leafs have played four games since the start of the new year, a 6-0 win over the Ottawa Senators, a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers, a 5-4 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche, and last night’s 4-3 shootout win against the Vegas Golden Knights.
That’s a solid record against mostly good teams and the Ottawa Senators. And despite being behind by a few games, the Maple Leafs are still deep in the playoff race in the Atlantic Division.
Unfortunately for the Coyotes, the Toronto Maple Leafs have a solid offense and a lethal power play. The Maple Leafs have the best power play in the NHL and have power play goals in three of their last four games.
If Arizona wants to have a chance tonight, they will want to start hot. The Coyotes don’t have many advantages, but the Leafs played last night while the Coyotes have been off since Saturday.
It’s also essential that the Desert Dogs stay out of the box and don’t give Toronto a chance with the man advantage.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Phil Kessel - The former-Maple Leaf hasn’t been scoring as much this, but he shows that he still has something to offer in the NHL. He currently has 18 assists and has definitely helped the Coyotes’ offense do what they can.
Toronto: Auston Matthews - The Scottsdale native led the Leafs in TOI last night and scored his 23rd goal of the season. He currently leads the Leafs with 23 goals and 37 points.
Arizona: Scott Wedgewood (COVID-19 protocol), Cam Dineen (COVID-19 protocol), Anton Strålman (COVID-19 protocol), Kyle Capobianco (COVID-19 protocol), Barrett Hayton (hand), Jay Beagle (lower body), Jakob Chychrun (upper body), Ryan Dzingel (upper body), Dmitrij Jaškin (lower body), Carter Hutton (lower body), Conor Timmins (knee)
Toronto: Pierre Engvall (COVID-19 protocol), Mitchell Marner (COVID-19 protocol)
Tonight’s game is a late one with an 8:00 pm Arizona start time. It will air on TNT, TVAS, and 620 AM.