Maple Leafs Betting Preview (Feb. 21): Matthews Goes For 50 Goals vs. Hometown Coyotes

The Toronto Maple Leafs have the potential to do some special things tonight. Whether it’s helping Auston Matthews hit a special milestone, completing a sweep of what was supposed to be a troublesome stretch without Morgan Rielly, or just adding to what has been a miserable run for the Arizona Coyotes, a lot is on the table Wednesday night. At the same time, the Coyotes have been one of Toronto’s most painful underdogs to face in recent years, and the trap game possibilities should not be ignored.

Bet on Maple Leafs vs. Coyotes

TOR -200
ARI +165

The Maple Leafs are fairly strong road favourites, sitting at -200 at bet365 on the moneyline. That number has become slightly longer in recent hours, moving closer to – but still from – Arizona’s favour.

Maple Leafs vs. Coyotes odds

Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds-200
Coyotes Moneyline Odds+165
Puckline oddsMaple Leafs -1.5 (+125), Coyotes +1.5 (-150)
Total 6.5 goals (over -125, under +105)
Time/DateFeb. 21, 10:00 p.m. ET
TVBroadcast: TSN
Stream: Sportsnet+
(How to watch the NHL in Canada?)

All odds courtesy of

About the Maple Leafs (30-16-8 SU, 18-36 ATS, 28-24-2 o/u)

Don’t look now, but the Maple Leafs are starting to look like the Maple Leafs again amidst a tough season of question marks. Toronto won their eighth game in their last 10 in a Monday afternoon matinee, defeating the St. Louis Blues for the second time in a week. Matthew Knies opened the scoring in this game just a few seconds into the second period, and while Brandon Saad was able to equalize on the literal last second of a St. Louis power play late in the frame, it was all Toronto in the third. With Jordan Kyrou in the box, Auston Matthews scored his 49th goal of the year to put Toronto up again, and a William Nylander shorthanded marker gave the Leafs some insurance. Pavel Buchnevich gave the Blues one last gasp in 6-on-5 play with a minute to go, but that was quickly mitigated by an impressive play by Bobby McMann to restore the two-goal lead.

Notably, the Maple Leafs are 4-0 since Morgan Rielly was suspended for his cross-check on Ridly Grieg, and while there was some hope that they might get him back sooner than the five games he was initially given, Gary Bettman affirmed the original DPS ruling following an appeal. It’s a bittersweet result, but it allows Toronto to attempt to make this a rallying point for at least one more night.

About the Coyotes (23-28-4 SU, 29-26 ATS, 29-23-3 o/u)

It’s a tough time to be a Coyotes fan right now, for a couple of reasons. For one, the Arizona Question has returned once more, with Salt Lake City mogul Ryan Smith’s formal request for NHL expansion into his city creating immediate speculation about other methods to get a team to Utah. Around the same time, talk of issues with the Coyotes finding a plot of land to build their next arena resurfaced, NHLPA head Marty Walsh was openly critical of the current situation with the team at All-Star Weekend, and gossip of the league having imminent news about the team’s future began spiralling. Whether current ownership finds a solution in Arizona, or they sell to someone else, or the league takes the team over, or they head to Salt Lake all seems up in air right now, and that’s no fun for anyone who wants to root for their team.

To make matters worse, since Smith released that speculation-sparking letter on January 24th, the Coyotes have not won a game, dropping 10 in a row and conceding a whopping 46 goals in that time. The playoffs seemed unlikely for them, but the team felt at least “scrappy” up until that point. Now, they look to snap the longest losing streak they’ve had since the start of 2021/22.

Auston Matthews 50 Goals – Does He Hit It Tonight?

The biggest storyline in this game might not be either team, but a specific individual. Yes, this is generally true whenever Auston Matthews visits his childhood Coyotes – the novelty of an Arizona-raised and developed megastar hasn’t, and likely never will wear off. He individually might be the biggest success of the organization, despite not actually playing for them. Players like himself and fellow Leaf Matthew Knies speak to the growth of hockey in the state and the potential it has if they can get the framework stable.

Wednesday is particularly special because on top of the homecoming, he has the potential to score his 50th goal of the year. Fifty goals has always been treated as a line for an elite goal-scoring season in the NHL, and Matthews sits at 49 with just 53 games played. If Matthews scores his next goal in any of the next seven games, he’ll be the fastest to hit 50 since Mario Lemieux scored a clean 50-in-50 in 1995/96. Matthews’ previous fastest was in 2021/22, when he hit 50 in Game 62.

After a brief skid in November, Matthews has scored 35 goals in his last 32 games, and 16 in his last 13. Along the way, he’s strung together six hat tricks, including two in back-to-back games this week.

Last Matchup

As we’ll get into in more detail about later, the Leafs don’t mix well with nights against the Coyotes. They showed this in their last game against them, which came back in December 2022. Toronto built up a 3-2 lead through 40 minutes on the backs of goals from Pontus Holmberg, the injured Calle Jarnkrok, and the now-opponent Alex Kerfoot, but saw it all evaporate in the third, conceding a power-play tally to J.J. Moser early in the period, a go-ahead goal to Jack McBain with six minutes to go, and two empty-netters in the final minutes.

Projected Lineups

Today’s Toronto Maple Leafs LinesToday’s Arizona Coyotes Lines
Matthew Knies – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner
Bobby McMann – John Tavares – William Nylander
Tyler Bertuzzi – Max Domi – Nick Robertson
Pontus Holmberg – David Kampf – Ryan Reaves

TJ Brodie – Timothy Liljegren
Simon Benoit – Jake McCabe
Max Lajoie – Marshall Rifai

Starting In Goal
Ilya Samsonov
12-4-6, 3.19 GAA, 0.882 SV%
Alex Kerfoot – Barrett Hayton – Nick Schmaltz
Matias Maccelli – Nick Bjugstad – Lawson Crouse
Clayton Keller – Logan Cooley – Dylan Guenther
Michael Carcone – Jack McBain – Jason Zucker

J.J. Moser – Mathew Dumba
Sean Durzi – Michael Kesselring
Juuso Valimaki – Josh Brown

Starting In Goal
Karel Vejmelka
6-14-2, 3.51 GAA, 0.893 SV%

Bobby McMann’s hot streak has catapulted him up into the top six – you love to see that kind of reward for the sophomore winger. If there are no changes, Noah Gregor will be out for a second consecutive game – while the 25-year-old impressed many as a value signing at the start of the season, his game has taken a noticeable dip of late and some time to regroup may be valuable for him. The blue line remains thin as Morgan Rielly serves the last game of his suspension, and Mark Giordano spends time with his family after the passing of his father.

Over on the Coyotes’ end, there’s a decent handful of familiar names for Leafs fans to watch. Alex Kerfoot was a staple in the Leafs’ middle-six over the past few years, Sean Durzi was a Leafs draft pick who was moved to acquire Jake Muzzin in 2019, and Michael Carcone spent half a season with the Toronto Marlies in 2018/19. Carcone had a breakout season in the AHL last year and exploded out of the gate with the Coyotes this season, scoring 14 goals and 17 points in his first 26 games. It hasn’t been as hot for him since, notching a goal and two assists in the following 22 games despite similar ice time.

Auston Matthews to score his 50th goal of the season against Arizona


Key Injuries

The Maple Leafs don’t appear to have anyone returning today, though it was announced this morning that Joseph Woll, who has been out for over two months with a high ankle sprain, will be joining the Marlies on an AHL conditioning stint to get himself back in game shape. It’s a big step for the netminder and shows that he’s closer than ever to returning to game action.

On Arizona’s end, another brief former Leaf in Travis Boyd is week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Also, Troy Stecher is out for the next few weeks with a lower-body injury, and Connor Ingram is out for the next few days for undisclosed reasons.

  • The Leafs are shockingly bad against the Coyotes historically, with Arizona winning seven of the last 10 games between the two teams dating back to 2017, including the last four contests. Arizona are 8-2 on the puckline as well. Arguably no opponent embodies “the Leafs play down to minnows” more than the Coyotes.
  • Don’t look now, but speaking of 8-2, that’s Toronto’s record in their last 10 games, buoyed of course by their current four-game win streak. They’re even 5-5 on the puckline! That’s big progress for a team that’s struggled to pull away this year, though still less than you’d hope compared to their ambitions.
  • The Coyotes, as if this game couldn’t get any trappier, are 0-9-1 in their last 10. They’ve kept three of those games close enough to get the puckline edge, but it’s been a mess for them overall.
  • The heartbeat of the Coyotes offence is Clayton Keller, who was teammates with Matthews, Marner, Nylander, and Rielly at the 2024 All-Star Games. He leads the team with 22 goals and 51 points this year and also leads them in assists (6), points (9) and shots (25) over the last 10 games.
  • Leading the Coyotes in goals over that stretch is rookie Logan Cooley, with four in his last 10 and two in his last five. Cooley is tied for fourth league-wide in rookie production this season, with 27 points in 55 games.
  • The purest goal scorer in the free world is lighting it up for Toronto. Of course, I’m referring to Bobby McMann, who has six in Toronto’s last five games. Also lighting it up outside of the usual crowd is Timothy Liljegren, who has risen to the occasion with Rielly out and put up five assists in five games.

Wagers To Consider

  • Considering rosters and considering current form, this should be an easy win for the Leafs. But between their historic issues with this team, the opportunity for Toronto to go 5-0 on the Rielly suspension, and the terrible losing streak the Coyotes are on, I wouldn’t blame you if you took an upset (+165) or even just an Arizona puckline (-150) on pure gut feeling. The Maple Leafs do this too often to rule it out, though it would be nice to see them break the mould.
  • We’re taking Auston Matthews to hit 50 tonight. Hardly shocking, we take him to score every night, because you have to at this point. His anytime is at -155, which if it isn’t the shortest it’s been this season, it’s certainly close. You can also take his shot prop over 4.5 at -115 if that feels a bit safer – you know he’s going to be pushing either way.
  • Give me a Sean Durzi point on the other side at +110. He’s had a productive year in general (29 points in 49 games) and this game will likely have some extra juice for him.

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