Ulmer: Some Phaneuf Misnomers
Monday, 11.1.2010 / 4:11 PM ET / Mike Ulmer's Blog
By Mike Ulmer - Mapleleafs.com commentator
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1. Dion Phaneuf hasn’t been very good.
Is that so?
2. He can’t hit the net.
Hardly. Only one other defenceman, (Atlanta’s Dustin Byfuglien) has more shots.
3. He can’t defend.
Well, he’s the ice-time leader on a defence that has lowered its goals against by almost a goal a game, from 3.21 to 2.30. They’re sixth in the league in defence. If he is sabotaging things, he has been very sneaky.
4. He sometimes takes himself out of position when he tries for a big hit.
Fair comment. Imagine a defenceman wanting to hit someone at centre ice. What is Bob Baun doing these days?
5. He’s peaked.
He’s 25. I don’t think so. I’ve peaked.
6. He will never score 20 goals as he did in Calgary.
Right again. I wonder if it’s because Phaneuf is the focus of every team’s penalty kill. They must be making shin pads of sterner stuff over the last few years because players rush at Phaneuf as if he were a free round of golf.
7. Why doesn’t he just pass on the powerplay?
To Tomas Kaberle? Seriously, you have a team with a hole in the middle you could park a Hummer in. The first two pivots have one goal between them. Naturally enough, the power play has fallen to the bottom third of the league. The penalty kill is 11th. Let’s see, one special team requires scoring, the other defence. Phaneuf is a mainstay on both teams. It’s like I say about the Almighty. If you are going to blame the Man for the bad things, you have to credit Him for the good. It’s called the Theory of the Divine Defenceman.
8. He’s not a good captain
He didn’t look bad 10 days ago.
9. He hasn’t scored.
Also true. Here are some names: Nik Lidstrom, Duncan Keith, Bryan McCabe, Dan Boyle, Shea Webber, Mike Green, PK Subban, Ed Jovanovski and Drew Doughty. None of these players have scored more than one goal. I have always said if you’re going to fail, don’t fail alone.
10. He keeps shooting wide.
Well, there aren’t too many places to put the puck when a six-four defenceman is sprawling in your way. Compare Byfuglien again. He has a directed 7.7 shots at the net a night: that’s a combination of shots, misses and shots that are blocked. Phaneuf has directed 9.3 shots. It’s tough to criticize a player who is second in the league in shots by a defenceman for not hitting the net. You can fault him for an elevated shots attempted figure, I suppose, although I always thought the idea was to direct as many shots at the net as possible.