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Spencer Lussier

Auston Matthews returns home to Arizona as the Leafs are set to take on the Coyotes, in the final meeting this season. Arizona has nine wins on the year, but one of them were against the Maple Leafs back in November.

Before the Christmas break, The Leafs snapped a four-game road losing skid in New York which was essential as the next three games for the Leafs are on the road. The Leafs are looking to continue the road success against a Coyotes team that has one win in their last nine games, and only four wins at home.

Matthews returned to the lineup in New York after a six-game absence and had an immediate impact with two points, while also making Head Coach Mike Babcock’s job a little easier with some stability back in the lineup. Matthews has a chance to become one of the fastest players to reach 100 points. The Grand Canyon State’s best hockey export is three points shy of the century mark, and considering how bad Arizona defensively, there is a very real opportunity he can reach that mark tonight.

What a homecoming that would be.

Over in Arizona, there isn’t a lot to be happy about. Although they picked up a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche last night, Arizona is still struggling to be competitive this season. Arizona sit dead last in the NHL with nine wins, and little to look forward to for the rest of the season. What the Coyotes do have is a wealth of young players that should flourish in the league. As for right now, the Coyotes are happy with dealing with the rookies’ mistakes as a successful season this year was not a realistic possibility.

Player to watch on Arizona:

Last time these two teams squared off I told you to keep an eye out on Coyotes rookie Clayton Keller. This time isn’t any different. Since their last meeting, Keller has cooled off a bit and other rookies such as Matt Barzel and Brock Boeser has surpassed him in the Calder Trophy race. However, he remains Arizona’s most dangerous weapon. Keller has 30 points in 39 games and leads the team in goals, assists and obviously points. Keller is an amazing offensive talent, with his play making ability and his hands that allow him to stick handle out of trouble with ease. Keep an eye out for Keller in this game, as yet another young American superstar in the making is taking the league by storm.

Watchability Scale:

Aside from Matthews returning home and witnessing if he can reach that 100-point mark, there isn’t a lot to be excited for in this game. Almost everyone expects the Leafs to dominate this game. Despite the loss to the Coyotes earlier in the year, the Leafs should have their way against a terrible Arizona team, which is why this game is a 2/5 on the scale. Sorry Leaf fans, blame the schedule makers for giving your team a less than exciting matchup after not watching your team in six days.

Lines:

Toronto:

Hyman - Matthews - Nylander

Marleau - Kadri - Komarov

JVR - Bozak - Marner

Martin - Moore - Brown

Reilly - Hainsey

Gardiner - Carrick

Borgman - Polak

Andersen

Arizona:

Duclair - Stepan - Rieder

Keller - Domi - Fischer

Crouse -  Dvorak - Archibald

Martinook - Perlini - Cousins

Ekman-Larsson - Demers

Chychrun - Goligoski

Connauton - Schenn

Wedgewood