Morgan Rielly returns to the lineup and Dryden Hunt makes his Toronto debut as the Maple Leafs look to avenge their Oct. 17 loss to the Coyotes in their first-ever visit to the Mullett Arena (9:00 p.m. EST, Sportsnet Ontario).

Whether it’s the opposition overlooking a bottom feeder, the bad lighting in the building, the uniqueness of the 4,500-seat college rink environment, or some mix of all of these factors that are driving it, the Coyotes should not be under-estimated on home ice, where they’ve gone 6-3-2 so far this season. That record includes regulation wins over the President’s Trophy front-runner Boston Bruins and the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.

Arizona doesn’t control the run of play at five-on-five too much better at home than on the road, but they’ve been riding a high PDO at Mullett Arena thanks to the play of Czech goaltender Karel Vejmelka — undefeated on home ice in five starts (5-0-0, .917 SV%) — and a team shooting percentage that’s just shy of 12% over all situations (third in the NHL on home ice).

Not to mention the Leafs lost to this Coyotes team 4-2 in Toronto in the fourth game of the season, sending the Toronto market into a mini-meltdown back in mid-October. Mix in Morgan Rielly’s return, Auston Matthews’ hometown game, and Dryden Hunt’s Leafs debut, and there should be plenty for the Leafs to get up for tonight.

With Rielly making his long-awaited return to the lineup, it looks like Dean Chynoweth and Sheldon Keefe will opt for continuity on the blue line as much as possible by substituting Rielly in for Jordie Benn on a pairing with Timothy Liljegren. That leaves the Mark Giordano – Justin Holl and TJ Brodie – Conor Timmins pairs intact.

Similarly, it appears the five-forward look on the power play will continue based on yesterday’s practice, but it would not be surprising in the least to see a few different looks, including reps for Rielly his familiar top unit. Overall, the Leafs‘ power play clicked at just 17% in Rielly’s absence compared to 28.1% before the knee injury that sidelined him for the last 15 games.

Head to Head: Leafs vs. Coyotes

In the season-to-date statistics, the Leafs hold the advantage over the Coyotes in four out of five offensive categories and five out of five defensive categories.

Game Day Quotes

Sheldon Keefe on the decision to insert Dryden Hunt into the lineup for his Leafs debut:

He is coming off of a practice day. You don’t want a guy sitting for too long. The break itself is disruptive for all of the players. Coming back, I think it makes sense for us to get him involved.

Keefe on what he is expecting from the atmosphere in the Mullett Arena:

It remains to be seen. It is different. I think it is going to be a little bit more intimate, of course. It should make for a little more intensity to the whole thing. It will be interesting to see how many Leafs fans will be here tonight and what that might do for the atmosphere.

Since we have come back from the break, there is a general excitement and great spirit about our group. You can tell that a short break has rejuvenated them, but also, they just like being around each other.

Getting back together is great, and when you come into here to Arizona, it is Auston’s hometown. There is some excitement for him and — as a result — our team around that, too.

All of that said, the puck is going to drop, and you have to compete. That’s what it comes down to.

Dryden Hunt on whether he can add a missing ingredient to the team’s forward mix:

The team has been playing great without me, but you watch a couple of games and look at the lineup to see where you fit and what the team needs. I try to bring energy and be a reliable guy who can change momentum when need be. You think about that a little bit. I kind of just want to chip in where I can.

Hunt on linemate Pontus Holmberg:

I didn’t know a lot about him, but just watching him in the last couple of games, he is a pretty special young player. It is pretty subtle the things he does out there, but you can tell he has all the tools. He makes great plays out there. He is calm with the puck.

That is all you can ask for from a fourth-line guy. You want to play confidently. You don’t want to dumb the game down too much. You still want to make plays out there. It will be fun to play with these two guys tonight.

Coyotes defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere on the atmosphere at the Mullett Arena:

It is definitely fun and different with only 4,500-5,000 fans. Just being in a smaller arena in general when you are so used to being in these big arenas is pretty cool. There is not a bad seat in the house. The crowds have been really good, too. It has been packed every night.

It is just a different environment. Some teams aren’t used to playing in that. It can be a little overwhelming when you are coming in there.

Gostisbehere on the challenge against Auston Matthews and the Leafs:

Any time Mats comes to town, there is definitely a little more [energy] in the building for sure. I can imagine what [Thursday night] will be like. He is definitely a special player. They have a few special players over there and a lot of talent offensively. I know they are going to have those moments, but you just have to limit those moments.

They are playing some really good hockey right now. We played them earlier this season and had a pretty good game against them. We are playing some good hockey right now as a team.

We know what they do and what they bring. For us, we have to stick with what has been working for us.

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines

#58 Michael Bunting – #34 Auston Matthews – #88 William Nylander
#19 Calle Järnkrok – #91 John Tavares – #16 Mitch Marner
#15 Alex Kerfoot – #64 David Kämpf – #47 Pierre Engvall
#12 Zach Aston-Reese – #29 Pontus Holmberg – #20 Dryden Hunt

#55 Mark Giordano – #3 Justin Holl
#44 Morgan Rielly – #37 Timothy Liljegren
#78 TJ Brodie – #25 Conor Timmins

Starter: #30 Matt Murray
#35 Ilya Samsonov

Extras: Jordie Benn, Joey Anderson, Wayne Simmonds
: Rasmus Sandin, Nick Robertson, Jake Muzzin, Victor Mete

Arizona Coyotes Projected Lines

#9 Clayton Keller – #72 Travis Boyd – #8 Nick Schmaltz
#53 Michael Carcone – #17 Nick Bjugstad – #67 Lawson Crouse
#12 Nick Ritchie – #29 Barrett Hayton – #36 Christian Fischer
#3 Josh Brown – #22 Jack McBain – #44 Zack Kassian

#6 Jakob Chychrun – #14 Shayne Gostisbehere
#4 Juuso Valimakiv – #90 J.J. Moser
#2 Patrik Nemeth – #51 Troy Stecher

Starter: #70 Karel Vejmelka (unconfirmed)
#39 Connor Ingram

Injured: Andrew Ladd, Liam O’Brien, Matias Maccelli