Friday, March 19, 2010

Dion "Difference Maker" Phaneuf

Since February 1st and the arrival of Dion Phaneuf - and the departure of Stajan, White, Hagman, Mayers, Blake, and Toskala - the Leafs have been clearly a different team. We've seen a few let-down games, but overall, the new, younger Leafs look energized, hard-working, and hungry.

Phaneuf has now played 15 games for the Blue and White. The Leafs record in that time, thanks to 5 wins in their last 6 games, including Thursday's shoot-out victory over the Devils, is 8-6-1, 17 points in 15 games, a .566 winning percentage. On pace for 92.9 points over an 82 game schedule. That's fairly promising considering this is only the beginning.

Phaneuf might not be having the offensive impact that people imagined - yet to hit the back of the net after 45 shots, with just 4 assists - but other newcomers are filling in the scoring gap created by the Jan-31st-Overhaul. Sjostrom has 2 assists after 8 games, Lundmark has 3 points after 10, and Caputi has 5 points already in just 9 games as a Leaf. The team's 40 goals-for in the last 15 games (2.66) is exactly in line with what it was for the first 56 games of the season (146) at 2.6 per game. The bigger difference is in the goals-against, which has gone down from 3.3 (185) in the first 56 games before Phaneuf, to 2.6 (39 goals) allowed in 15 games after.

For the month of March, Gustavsson is 4-0, with a .920 SV% and 2.16 Goals-Against. Kulemin has 9 points in the last 10 games. Grabovski returned to the line-up with a 5-game point streak and is a +3.

Kessel has 17 points in 15 games since Phaneuf came aboard. Bozak has 13 points in the last 15 games. Gunnarsson is a +9 over that same period, and Luke Schenn has scored 7 points and is a +3. Even Jeff Finger is a +3 in 7 appearances since Dion came to town.

About the only player who hasn't benefited from the turnover is Kaberle, with just 4 points and a -6 since Phaneuf's arrival. A combination of fatigue, unfamiliarity, fewer opportunities with less ice-time, and a little bit of bad luck, has seen Kabby's once consistent point-production fall off the side of a cliff.

"It's not just about the points, it's about the two points at the end of the night."

I like that quote. As long as WE get the two points, that is. Doesn't help much if they get the two points.

However, a player's lack of on-ice production can be counter-balanced positively - by the way the player perseveres, by the encouragement that they give their teammates, and by the enthusiasm they bring to their next assignment or opportunity. Even if their names don't appear on the scoresheet, we know who they are - we call these players difference-makers.

And now some Leafs Trivia to end this post with: Name the only 3 Maple Leafs who have appeared in all 71 games thus far this season... The answer: Tomas Kaberle, Francois Beauchemin, and... did you know it? - Colton Orr. That's right. Orr has skated on the ice for every game and has yet to lose his spot in the line-up or miss any action due to injury. Having recently surpassed 200 penalty minutes, I'd have to say that he's doing his job, and doing it well. Definitely want him back next year. Nice job, Cowboy Colt.


Bloge Salming said...

Great post....I wonder how much of the Leafs recent good play is also addition by subtraction.

general borschevsky said...

Thanks, Bloge! In the case of Blake and Toskala, I definitely think so. It's easy to be better then worst.

Jeff Murphy and Jeff O'Brian said...

True enough my friend...