This is a representative gif of the road leading to Jobing.com Arena for the 40 Coyotes home games this year in which they don’t play the Maple Leafs. To say that the Coyotes are having problems filling their 17,534 seats is an understatement. But that problem will take a one night hiatus today because the best traveling team in hockey is riding into town on a 4 game winning streak. And not just winning, but winning in style. The offense has exploded for 22 goals in that 4 game streak led by All-Star Phil Kessel who has 5 goals in that span. Not to be outdone by one man, the Kulemin-Grabovski-MacArthur line has combined for 10 goals themselves. As great as the offense has been, the best stat line for the Leafs is held by rookie goaltender James Reimer who is 4-1 in the 5 games he’s started this season while posting a .947 save %. Yeah, he’s pretty good and that’s why Wilson has yet again delayed Reim Time’s "inevitable" return to the AHL and given him the start tonight.
Also on a winning streak are the Coyotes who have won 2 straight and currently sit 6th in the West with 51 points. How have they earned themselves a current playoff spot? Through very timely play. Phoenix is one of only 3 teams to be in playoff position and have a negative goal differential; 121 goals for, 123 goals against. (Anaheim and Tampa Bay being the other two.) Whereas last year they were buoyed by fantastic goaltending from Bryzgalov and Labarbera, this year they being held aloft through a scoring by committee philosophy. They have 15 players with 10 or more points and 14 players with 5 or more goals. Only 1 player has more than 30 points, defenseman Keith Yandel with 31. Only 1 player has moe than 10 goals, Scottie Upshall with 12. They are in essense, a hydra. A multi-headed beast that can only be killed if all of it’s heads are removed. A task that I’m sure Colton Orr would relish.
One thing that’s interested about this year’s Coyotes versus last year’s Coyotes is that while last year they owned a league best 19-7 record for games that went past regulation; this season they are 2-9 with games that finish in OT or Shootouts. That’s the second worst record in the league after Ottawa’s dismal 0 for 6. So continuing with my bucking of tradition in calling Leafs wins, I’m suggesting to Coach Wilson that he has the Leafs play for a tie in regulation leading to an easy OT win. Nothing else more to say about this match but GO LEAFS GO!