Coming off a 4-3 shootout win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night in Sin City, the Toronto Maple Leafs continue their six-game road trip with a visit to the cellar-dwelling Arizona Coyotes.
Backup goalie Petr Mrazek will get the start in net for Toronto after Jack Campbell saved 31 of 34 shots against the Golden Knights but gave up a pair of third period-goals to let Vegas come back from a 3-1 deficit. He held up in overtime and the shootout, though, allowing William Nylander to score the game-winning shootout goal.
Arizona hasn’t played since Saturday, when the Coyotes fell 4-2 to the Nashville Predators. The Coyotes — and goalie Karel Vejmelka, who has been getting most of the starts lately — let Nashville score three first-period goals, to set the tone for the game and Arizona couldn’t come back.
The Maple Leafs, in third place in the Atlantic Division, are big favorites in this one on the current NHL betting lines.
- Game: Toronto Maple Leafs (23-8-3; 49 points) vs Arizona Coyotes (7-23-3; 17 points)
- Location: Gila River Arena
- Day/Time: Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET
- Television: TNT
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Arizona Coyotes
Leafs Humming on Offense
The impressive early-season goaltending by Campbell has been a big reason why the Maple Leafs are playing so well, in part because it’s such a radical change from previous seasons. However, it’s not like the offense has tapered off in any way. Toronto is seventh in the NHL in goals per game, scoring almost a goal more per game than it is giving up.
Also, it’s not like it’s just Auston Matthews and John Tavares who are keeping the Maple Leafs afloat. Both are playing very well as usual — Matthews is tied for third in goals league-wide and Tavares has 34 points — but other guys have stepped up, like William Nylander (16 goals, 20 assists), Morgan Rielly (25 assists), and even rookie surprise Michael Bunting (seven goals, 14 assists).
The Maple Leafs have a ton of talent, even outside of their top two lines, that can hurt opposing teams. Plus, if you’re betting online, remember that Toronto has one of the best power plays in hockey which has converted 30.2 percent of its opportunities — tied for No. 1 with the Edmonton Oilers. Toronto has a top-10 penalty kill as well.
Coyotes Entering Rebuild Mode
The Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens are right at the bottom of nearly everything in the NHL, from the standings to the statistical leaderboards. Arizona has scored the second-fewest goals per game and has allowed the most goals per game. Not the best combination.
Vejmelka hasn’t been great, by any means, but he at least has a .904 save percentage and the lowest goals allowed average of any of the goalies the Coyotes have used. It’s not easy to post a save percentage north of .900 with a lineup as depleted as the one Arizona trots out every night, so Vejmelka is actually a rare bright spot of this nightmarish season.
Still, though, it’s going to be tough to stop the Maple Leafs’ relentless offense. Vejmelka gives Arizona its best chance in net — better than backup Scott Wedgewood — even if the chance of beating Toronto is a small one.
Mrazek a Fine Backup
In a perfect world, the Maple Leafs would trot out Campbell every night with how good he has been this season, despite a few hiccups lately. But, there’s no reason for them to run him into the ground in January. Mrazek, who hasn’t played much due to injury and COVID, is a more-than-suitable backup which is why the BetUS Sportsbook still likes the Maple Leafs so much.
Mrazek was good in limited action for the Carolina Hurricanes last season, posting a 2.06 goals-against average and .923 save percentage across 12 games. If Toronto can get anything close to that on the nights that Campbell is rested, the Maple Leafs would be thrilled. It’s smart for coach Sheldon Keefe to give Mrazek a shot against a low-scoring team like the Coyotes to try and help him rebuild some confidence.
So, go with Toronto on the puckline. The Maple Leafs did play a long game on Tuesday night, but it’s a short trip from Las Vegas to Phoenix, and Toronto is so talented and playing so well right now that it shouldn’t matter much.