NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: Maple Leafs vs. Coyotes (Jan. 12)

NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: Maple Leafs vs. Coyotes (Jan. 12) article feature image

Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Auston Matthews.

  • The Maple Leafs are overwhelming -300 favorites against the Coyotes.
  • Arizona is one of the worst teams in recent times, while Toronto is among the league's best.
  • Nicholas Martin breaks down the matchup and delivers his betting pick below.

Maple Leafs vs. Coyotes Odds

Maple Leafs Odds-300
Coyotes Odds+250
Time10 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Arguably more than any other cup contender, the Toronto Maple Leafs would love to win their division crown and avoid a treacherous first-round matchup. It would allow themselves to get a better opportunity to snap their slump of first-round exits, which are surely deeply etched into the team's mind.

It certainly won't be easy in a division with the likes of Florida, Tampa Bay and Boston, but the Leafs are within striking distance and certainly can't afford to drop points against the lowly Coyotes.

Will Auston Matthews put on a show for his hometown crowd and help Toronto claim two points?

Toronto Poised for Big Night

Actually below its mark over a larger sample size of the whole year, Toronto have posted a 54.16 expected goals for percentage over its last 5 games (prior to Tuesday's contest in Vegas), managing a 4-0-1 record and +12 goal differential.

And although those marks have come against some softer competition, outside of a solid performance Saturday in a 5-4 overtime defeat at Colorado, Toronto is consistent with the strong results seen all season since a slump to start the campaign.

Toronto's balanced play has helped produce a tremendous mark of +29, and while the defensive play has regressed to an extent of late, that did come with some notable roster losses, specifically Rasmus Sandin, who has been excellent this season.

Mitch Marner will remain sidelined for this contest, but that will still leave a wealth of three truly elite pieces in Matthews, John Tavares and William Nylander, all of whom are all beyond a point per game this season, to help pick apart a porous Arizona defense.

That loss allowed a top-six role for Ilya Mikheyev, who no doubt holds an excellent skill set but has been heavily limited of late due to injury. Mikheyev holds four points in four contests this season and would be a sound DFS option tomorrow as well.

Petr Mrazek will make his fourth start of the year in the back-to-back situation, with a poor -2.2 goals saved above expected rating (GSAx) and a .880 save percentage. Two of his starts came in notably off-nights for the defense, though, and he did post a +7.1 GSAx rating with a .923 save percentage last season.

Goaltending is obviously tough to predict, but I would not expect Mrazek to finish with below-average numbers come season's end.

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Coyotes Showing Slightest Improvement

Arizona has picked up its play to an extent. A 2-2-1 record over its last five games is a notable high point in its season, a stretch during which it has a more respectable 47.29 expected goals for percentage.

However, that mark came mainly from a strong expected goals scored in one of the more poorly played NHL contests I've ever seen in the Coyotes' first contest back after the break against San Jose. Even in contests featuring reasonably close gameplay, you have to expect Arizona to fare less than favorably, holding some lesser goaltending and little true playmaking ability and few notable finishers.

Top defender Jacob Chychrun will remain sidelined for the contest. Although Dysin Mayo has been a positive story for the Coyotes, the club's top pair of him and Shayne Gostisbehere are still being beaten at even strength. This figures to be a very tough night for them, as they have been exposed particularly badly against teams that are able to force more play in the defensive zone, as we should see the Leafs top pieces able to do.

With Scott Wedgewood in COVID protocol, we will see Karel Vejmelka, who has honestly appeared a little sharper than a -2.9 goals saved above expecting rating and a .904 save percentage would suggest. The nature of the breakdowns on this club could possibly have gashed his numbers up more than expected.

Maple Leafs vs. Coyotes Pick

Arizona will hang in some games simply because it's a professional hockey team and it competes well, but make no mistake about it: This Coyotes team is amongst the worst assembled in the salary cap era. A 7-23-3 record runs along with what's expected from this group talent-wise.

Worse yet is Arizona's record against top competition, with just one win over team's inside the top 11 spots in league standings coming against St. Louis.

Arizona's -56 goal differential this season throughout 33 games means it's on average being outscored by -1.69 goals per game. That's against all competition, not teams as talented as this Leafs group.

The Coyotes have arguably been in better form of late, but their more competitive contests have still come against far lesser competition. Playoff-bound teams have still covered puck lines in five of seven and two of two since the restart.

Mrazek hasn't exactly proven himself to be as awful this season as some would believe, and I still think Toronto is winning this game by two or more often enough that we have plenty of value at -120 to back their puck line.

Pick: Toronto Maple Leafs -1.5 (-120, Play to -135)

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