Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

In the Crease - Week 12

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Kids and the Hall
The Arizona Coyotes acquired F Taylor Hall from the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday, bolstering an already strong group in the desert. They head into play tied with the Edmonton Oilers at the top of the Pacific Division with 42 points and a game in hand. They're each one point ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights, and two points ahead of the Calgary Flames. So the Coyotes kicked off the arms race by strengthening their roster with Hall joining big offseason acquisition F Phil Kessel and a host of other younger forwards. The Coyotes rank 25th in the NHL with just 2.6 goals per game, and they're 19th in shots on goal (31.0). While the power play ranks 10th at 20.8 percent, the Coyotes needed some additional firepower.

The Coyotes have struggled, including a 2-1 loss to the aforementioned Devils on Saturday as -215 favorites. They haven't won consecutive games at home since winning three in a row on home ice from Oct. 10-19. Arizona has struggled, alternative wins and losses in the past six outings despite the fact Darcy Kuemper has been one of the top goaltenders in the NHL. He is 14-7-0 with a sparkling 1.97 goals-against average and .935 save percentage with two shutouts. He might be approaching 20 wins if he was getting any kind of regular offensive support.

 Looking Ahead

Tuesday, Dec. 17

Buffalo at Toronto: The Sabres and Maple Leafs square off at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto for the third time since Nov. 29. The Sabres won the first battle in Buffalo by a 6-4 score as +135 underdogs, while the Leafs returned the favor by a 2-1 score in overtime as -245 favorites. In that back-to-back set, Linus Ullmark bested Michael Hutchinson, while in the meeting in Toronto we had Frederik Andersen topping Carter Hutton. The latter is the goaltender battle to expect on Tuesday. The Sabres are 1-6 in the past seven meetings, and 4-17 in their past 21 forays across the Peace Bridge and up the QEW to Toronto.

Arizona at San Jose: The Coyotes will have their new toy on display at SAP Center, as Hall joins the roster for the first time in San Jose. Arizona has actually been heads and tails better on the road, going 8-8-0-1 at home, and 11-4-2-1 (14-4) in their 17 games on the road (+253). The Coyotes are 9-4 in the past 13 on the road, but just 1-4 in the past five inside the division. The Sharks are just 1-6 in the past seven overall, but they're 5-0 inside the Pacific Division and 10-3 in the past 13 against Western Conference foes. The Coyotes are 3-7 in the past 10 meetings with the Sharks, and just 7-17 in the past 24 trips to the Bay Area.

Wednesday, Dec. 18

Edmonton at St. Louis: The Blues won the Stanley Cup last season, while the Oilers pine to just make the playoffs and have another shot at the holy grail of hockey. After years of top picks and then disappointment, Edmonton is finally starting to put it together this season. While they're solid overall, they have won just once in the past five overall, and they're 3-15 in the past 18 against the Central Division. They'll need to make inroads against the Central if they want to do any damage. Conversely, the Blues have won nine of the past 12 against the Pacific Division, and they're 7-3 in the past 10 games overall. Edmonton is 4-12 in the past 16 trips to St. Louis, and they're just 9-24 in the past 33 meetings overall in the series. The under is also 7-3 in the past 10 meetings.

Thursday, Dec. 19

N.Y. Islanders at Boston: The Islanders and Bruins hook up at TD Garden in Beantown. The Bruins have been super powerful, ranking fourth in the NHL with 3.4 goals per game while ranking third on the power play at 26.2 percent. Defensively, the B's rank fourth with 2.4 goals allowed, while ranking 10th in penalty kill at 83.3 percent. This is the first meeting of the season between these two Eastern Conference contenders. The last time these teams met on March 19 on the Island, the B's came away with a 5-0 victory behind Tuukka Rask. In fact, the B's swept the three-game series while outscoring the Isles 11-2. The Bruins have won three straight at home against the Islanders, outscoring them 8-3 with the 'under' cashing in four straight battles in Massachusetts.

Vancouver at Vegas: The Canucks were dumped 6-3 in Vegas, as Marc-Andre Fleury and the home team topped Jacob Markstrom, who allowed five goals before getting pulled in favor of Michael DiPietro on Sunday. Since Vegas came into the league before the 2017-18 season, the Golden Knights have posted a 8-1 record, with the lone loss at home. They're 4-0 all-time in Vancouver, outscoring the Canucks by a 20-11 margin wit the 'over' hitting in each of those four matchups. The over is 6-3 in the nine all-time meetings, including Sunday, with the Golden Knights averaging 4.6 goals per game to 2.3 goals per game for the Canucks.

Friday, Dec. 20

Pittsburgh at Edmonton: The Penguins hit the road for Alberta to battle the Oilers in what should be a high-scoring game. Of course, that was the thinking in the first meeting on Nov. 2, but the Pens fell 2-1 in overtime at PGH Paints Arena. Pittsburgh is 9-2 in the past 11 meetings, although they've been surprising close battles almost every time. In fact, five of the past eight games have been decided in overtime or a shootout. All but one of the previous nine meetings have been decided by one goal, so remember that if you're considering betting the puck line. The Penguins have won five straight trips to Edmonton, with the under 4-1 dating back to Jan. 10, 2014. That was an Oilers victory in overtime, 6-5, behind Jeff Zatkoff. Yeah, it's been a while.

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