Originally Posted by dmvincent
For what it's worth, I liked the way he played last night against the Habs, particularly on the power play. He was not trying to shoot the puck every time he had it, which is good to see. He wasn't overused in the game, playing just over 24 minutes. He picked the right time to shoot when on the two-man advantage as well.
Look at his line from last night: G, A, +1, 2 SOG, 5 HITS, 1 BLOCK.
I think if he makes the first pass more often and just plays his game, the points will come.
This is the key to his game. He's a talented player but when he's trying to be superman for the Leafs, he gets burned...a lot. He's a top line guy, likely even a number 1 (average probably) but he's not the kind of guy to put the team on his shoulders and carry it single handily. That goes to the idea he needs a capable partner to truly see him play his game. He needs his Suter, a guy that allows him to take chances, make aggressive highlight reel hits, and be that dominant dman. By himself (and with Mike Kostka) he has to paly conservatively and will tire out, meaning less rushes, less big hits.
When he plays his game, he's one of the best. He's scoring, hitting, shooting, playing a way that makes the other team keep their heads up. This brings me to my next point. I had a theory around his first full season as a Leaf that I think still holds water now. I think he needs to be physically engaged to play that game. When he's laying those big hits he just seems more involved. It's almost like its give him that cockiness (in a good way) that just lends to his confidence. He plays like he's one of the best on the ice and if you get in his way, he's going to make you pay.
Some of the times he's shown his most dominant offensive game, have come when he's laying those big eye opening hits. When he's playing on the edge of the cliff and not like he's being told to play 5 meters away from it.7
I don't necessarily blame Phanuef for this or even coaching staff, its more of a situational necessity. After Phaneuf the team is largely devoid of impact dman. Gardiner has potential, Gunnarson is solid, Franson's got a killer shot and Kostka has a great story but really none of them come close to be top line dman...at least at this point in time.
But this means you're going to get the Phaneuf you had last year. He's reliable, and will get you points and good peripherals. 40 points, top ten in shots, contributing a high amount of hits/PIMs/blocks but not always hitting that top of his game stride for a long period of time. If the Leafs can get someone to play with him though, you could see a much more dominant Phaneuf for a much longer period of time.
14T BiWeekly H2H. 4 C/RW/LW, 6 D, 2 G
Cats:G(3), A(1.5), +-(1), PIM(0.2), PPP(1), SOG(0.2), GWG(1), SHP(2), Hits(0.3), BkS(0.4). W(2), SO(2), OTL(0.5), SV(0.2), GA(-1), L(-1).
LW - Pactches, Benn, Ott, Foligno, Belesky
C - Staal, Thornton, M Richards, Giroux
RW - Ovie, Hossa, Callahan, Tara, Neil
D - Weber, OEL, Shatty, Seidenberg, Suter, Wiz, Beauch, Wiz, MacDonald
G - Lundqvist, Varlamov, Allen
Prospects - Schultz, M Rielly, Ramo, Brodin, RNH, Forsberg, D Shore, Trouba, Bjugstad
IR- RNH, Kulikov