NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Maple Leafs vs. Coyotes
AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King. Pictured: Auston Matthews
- The Arizona Coyotes host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.
- Toronto is clearly the better side, but Arizona has already upset the Maple Leafs once this season.
- Greg Liodice breaks down the matchup and offers up a betting pick below.
Maple Leafs vs. Coyotes Odds
|Maple Leafs Odds
|9 p.m. ET
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.
The Toronto Maple Leafs head to Mullett Arena to take on the Arizona Coyotes. The Leafs have been red hot in their past 10, going 7-2-1, including an overtime win in St. Louis
Arizona isn't as talented as Toronto, but the Coyotes are certainly capable of upsets. Back in October, Arizona beat the Leafs in Toronto, which stunned everyone. The Coyotes have also won two in a row, so they’re coming in hot.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Make no mistake about it, you’ll always be primed for a snipe show with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mitch Marner is on a tear after going on a 23-game point streak and Auston Matthews is fresh off a 60-goal season last year. Surprisingly, William Nylander is leading the team with 21 goals. Captain John Tavares is also a threat to put the puck in the net at any time.
Toronto has always had one of the more elite even strength offenses, along with a high-end power play. The Leafs rank fifth in expected goals with a 54.29 xGF% and generate close to 11 high-danger chances per game. Toronto's power play is down compared to last year, but the Leafs are always a threat and are scoring at a reasonable 23.4% pace.
Despite missing two of their top defensemen in Morgan Rielly and Rasmus Sandin, the Leafs are actually exceptional on the backend. They only allow 2.42 xGA/60 and the penalty kill is fairly decent with a 79.6% success rate.
Coming into the season, many wondered how the goaltending would work out in Toronto, but it’s looking to be a strength for the Leafs. Both Ilya Samsonov and Matt Murray are enjoying resurgent seasons. I think this is a great game for Murray to start since he hasn’t played since the 20th. He’s playing to a wonderful +7.9 goals saved above expected (GSAx) and a .925 SV%.
Clayton Keller has been Arizona's face for the past few years and is averaging a point per game. Behind him, Shayne Gostisbehere is producing along with Lawson Crouse and Jakob Chychrun. Arizona will be without Matias Maccelli, who impressed the Coyotes and became their fourth leading scorer. This isn't a sexy lineup by any means, but Arizona competes, as shown in its win against the defending champs.
Offensively, it’s no surprise the Coyotes are among the league’s worst. They have a third-worst 42.49 xGF% and generate a league worst 6.9 high-danger chances per game. Additionally, Arizona is below average on the man advantage, converting on the power play just 19.5% of the time.
Similar to its offensive woes, Arizona is among the worst on the defensive end. It allows 2.86 xGA/60 and only succeeds 75% of the time on the penalty kill.
Even though the Coyotes are among the league’s worst, Karel Vejmelka is playing like a top-five goaltender. The Czechian netminder is playing to unreal numbers with a +17.0 GSAx and .910 SV%. For a netminder on a bottom five team, that is a welcome sight for the Coyotes moving forward.
Maple Leafs vs. Coyotes Pick
In matchups like this, you have to be wary of a trap game. The Maple Leafs are clearly the better team, but as shown back in October, they can let up against a lower-level team. Arizona being on a hot stretch is also something to keep in mind. The Coyotes are playing their best hockey of the season.
I think this game will be much closer than most expect and will end with a Leafs empty net goal. The Coyotes defense is awful, but Vejmelka’s presence helps cancel that out. Meanwhile, Toronto’s defense and goaltending have been exceptional. In the end, I think Toronto's talent takes the advantage here. Regardless of how good Vejmelka has been, it's hard to stop the likes of Matthews, Marner and Nylander for 60 minutes.
What is QuickSlip?
QuickSlip is an Action Network feature that allows users to automatically pre-load their bet slip at FanDuel Sportsbook.