It’s the first time since November of 2010 that we’ve even had to ponder the question of what the Maple Leaf blueline will look like without Dion Phaneuf.
Alas, Phaneuf has been suspended for two games as a result of his hit from behind on Kevan Miller at the end of Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins.
It seemed like a game would suffice given Phaneuf’s nonexistent priors and Miller being fine outside of a cut on his face. But the Leafs haven’t had much luck in the injury or suspension departments this season, and Phaneuf will join David Clarkson, Carter Ashton, Nazem Kadri and Phil Kessel (preseason) among those in Blue and White to have been suspended this season. Combined with significant man games lost for Bolland, Bozak and Lupul, adversity has not been in short supply for the Leafs in the first half of the season.
Cody Franson and Jake Gardiner could become the de facto top pair in Dion Phaneuf’s absence, with perhaps Paul Ranger replacing Dion on the right side of his pairing with Carl Gunnarsson. From there, Randy Carlyle can fill out his lineup with a combination of Morgan Rielly, John-Michael Liles and Mark Fraser. Jake Gardiner playing 25 minutes isn’t something he’s foreign to, but a guy like Cody Franson will need to step up on the right side.
Update from practice:
Carl Gunnarsson paired with Cody Franson today. Jake Gardiner with John-Michael Liles. Paul Ranger with Mark Fraser.
— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) December 10, 2013
It could be a sink or swim proposition for some of the Leafs D seeing increased minutes, as the two games Phaneuf will miss will be against the Kings and Blues, who are both in the League’s top 8 overall with a combined record of 38-13-7.
One upside is that Phaneuf seemed a little hobbled after blocking a shot with his foot against Ottawa, and played despite some discomfort on Sunday. Maybe the forced rest will do him some good. But it’s woeful timing as far as the competition in the Wednesday/Thursday back to back.
This one will hurt the team, with Dion out on a tough back-to-back with tough Western Conference teams in the Kings and Preds. Hope the leafs can at least split the series. Phaneuf will have to apologize to Elisha on why he is $66,000 poorer. Looking to see Franson take over his pairing with Carl. If your interested on another view on this story check out this article; http://www.gcconnected.com/?p=305
Maple Leafs Systems - Penalty Kill: http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2013/12/10/maple-leafs-systems-the-penalty-kill/ … @Katshockey wraps up his Systems series with a look at the struggling Leafs PK.
Is it just me or does Bunny Larocques' helmet look crazy scary? I wish one of our goalies got a similar look.
I actually wish we had a Roy type coach with some big cojones. Someone willing to tell the NHL you're wrong. If you're going to suspend one of ours suspend the others too. No bullshit, just the do the right thing NHL. We need a coach that is a leader.
I remember Fraser last year chipping the puck out of the zone, this year he wants to play like Paul Coffey.
@Belfour20 3 seasons
@Belfour20 ya day before the winter classic
@4evrblue He says he's ready
@CanuckUKinToronto They could put Espisito in and the Hawks would still win
@Belfour20 Probably not. Komarov wanted to play in the Olympics, he'll be back next year. But who knows? Burke was always a player's GM and may have convinced him to stay.
@Belfour20 Not if the rumors about him wanting 3.5 mil are true
@deedrag Bunny Laroque - once stopped Gretzky on a penalty shot in a game the Leafs won by a huge margin. Early 80s. watched it on HNIC - there were few shining moments in the 80s
@Shift_Disturber1 Is he saying we don't know WTF Randy is doing with his roster decisions?
@Shift_Disturber1 Everyone has watched this team. Saying it's undisciplined play is disingenuous. WE've all seen our fair share of crappy officiating. Real crappy officiating.
@Thedoor29 makes me wanna puke just thinking of giving that lump 7 mil
@Belfour20 talking about absolute shit speed D though and what does Murray make this season?
@deedrag I wish we had a coach that actually talked to the players on the bench during a game, congratulating them for a fine play, or discuss bad plays with a pat on the back or two hands on the shoulders....Wils was like a stiff behind the bench and RC is no better...last night I watched the Philly game and I saw Maclean place 2 hands on the players shoulder on 3 occasions; going over plays with a little pat on the back afterward....it motivates the player....God, I wish we could reincarnate Pat Burns...
@Belfour20 Won't help much. Carlyle has this ridiculous attachment to certain players. Holzer, Kostka, McLaren+Orr, McClement, Fraser.
@-Keon- are we talking about the same 2 people? leo Komarov and BB right? BB was the one that got him to stay during the lock out and play in the AHL
@-Keon- Exactly. I don't hate the guy when he plays well, but the fact is that he's not. Leafs could probably send him down now. He'd definitely clear waivers.
@ProfessorRance You mean Lebda?
@-Keon- want to bet?
@hoolihan @loomx @Belfour20 Raymond and Bolland are pretty much the only players that have made a tangible difference. The off-season goal was simple. Improve the D. Our goalies were fine. Our forwards were fine. What did he do? Replaced a quarter of the forwards and a goalie and did a whole lotta nothing to the D.