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How will the Leafs look without Phaneuf?

Dec 10, 2013, 3:02 PM EDT

Dion Phaneuf Getty Images

For the first time in three years, the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to experience life without Dion Phaneuf.

The last time was early in the 2010-11 season, when Phaneuf missed 16 games with a leg injury. Toronto went 5-8-3 without him, and he’s been healthy ever since.

But Phaneuf will be suspended for Wednesday’s home game versus Los Angeles and Thursday’s visit to St. Louis — two pretty tough opponents for a team with just a pair of regulation wins (over the basement-dwelling Sabres and Islanders) in its last 17 contests.

How will the Leafs fare without their top d-man this time around?

Those who argue they’ll miss him a lot will point out that no Leaf has played more minutes than Phaneuf this season. In fact, his 24:13 average ice time is more than three minutes higher than any other Toronto blue-liner.

And it’s not just the number of minutes, it’s the type. Based on one measure, he’s been deployed against the toughest competition of any regular defenseman in the NHL.

On the other hand, Phaneuf’s occasional (or frequent, depending who you ask) defensive gaffe — like the one in Game 4 of the Leafs’ first-round series versus Boston — has the tendency to bring out the knives in a big way.

Looming over all of this? Phaneuf is a pending unrestricted free agent who just saw teammate Phil Kessel sign an eight-year, $64 million extension.

So for the Leafs, as much as they disagreed with the suspension, if there’s a bright side to his two-game ban, at least they’re about to get a brief glimpse at how they’d look without him.

Because that remains an option for the future.

Related: Nonis says ‘no reason to think’ Phaneuf won’t remain with Leafs

  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Not good, for exactly the reasons listed. Leafs just don’t have a way to replace the minutes he logs against the other teams’ stars. Here’s hoping they can at least salvage a point over the next two.

  2. myroncopesflask - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Is it 2 games or two months?

    • sabatimus - Dec 10, 2013 at 4:03 PM

      No kidding. “How will the Leafs look without Phaneuf?” For TWO games. Gimme a fricking break.

      • 91caleb - Dec 11, 2013 at 8:22 AM

        its obviously to see a glimpse of what might become considering he’s a pending UFA. noone is sounding some sort of panic alarm

  3. sjsblitz - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    How will the leafs look without Phaneuf? There gonna face alot more *puts on sunglasses* SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS!

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:49 PM

      Not sure if that’s even possible.

  4. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    Maybe this will be a good thing for Toronto. Hopefully this will inspire the rest of the defensemen to buckle down and focus on playing defense instead of depending on Phaneuf to do it all. It’s not like the benchmark is set very high. Just need to allow fewer than 40 shots and they’d be headed in the right direction.

  5. montrealbbr - Dec 10, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    Probably not too bad, Phaneuf = overrated!

    • sunderlanding - Dec 10, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      First off he’s not overrated. How can you be overrated when everyone says you’re overrated? If everyone said he was great then he’d be overrated, but leave it to a habs fan to not understand the word. Secondly, even if he was overrated, he’s still there best defensive defensman, so it’s going to be tough for the Leafs.

      • 19to77 - Dec 10, 2013 at 7:27 PM

        As someone who admittedly doesn’t follow the Leafs too closely, I thought Gunnarsson was their go-to defensive defenseman. Is that not true?

      • sunderlanding - Dec 12, 2013 at 3:23 PM

        In a way it is, but Dion logs the most minutes and is usually in charge of shutting down the other teams stars.

  6. joey4id - Dec 10, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    It’s never a good thing when you lose the cornerstone of your defense. Each team has one, and when left without leaves a gaping hole. The Leafs will be fighting for a Wild Card spot until the end of the season. They can ill afford to be without Phaneuf. Injuries are unavoidable, but he can avoid the wrath of Shanny if he plays within the rules.

  7. billsin20xx - Dec 10, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    It’s about time that the princess pays some dues for all his cheap shots though. I find it hard to believe hard core Canadian hockey fans like this guy. I don’t think he ever legitimately hits anybody, it’s all face watches and stick work with him. When he does get challenged he gets his stick up and avoids a fight.
    Def a princess!

    • 91caleb - Dec 11, 2013 at 8:25 AM

      check out the interview with brendan shanahan about the suspension, he literally states that phaneuf is a model of pristine body checking and he uses him as an example for other players as to how to hit players hard, and yet still CLEAN.

      also, face washes and stick work are not bad things, stick work especially, damn, you’re just plain ignorant

  8. jason9696 - Dec 10, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    Dion Phaneuf is a pretty good defenseman. He just takes a lot of abuse because he is the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    He has a pretty hot wife as well.

    • anthj99 - Dec 10, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      Sean Avery hit it.

    • imleftcoast - Dec 10, 2013 at 6:30 PM

      There’s a video from last year’s playoffs of Reimer’s wife giving her the stink eye.

      https://v.cdn.vine.co/v/videos/7B62D83B-54EE-4F00-A906-E25C274D17C6-10948-000007042A6AF41B_1.1.mp4?versionId=XPyfqaWVbmvoCNAWjwgFMPnJkE8SIYo1

      Actually, it looked like the guy beside Cuthbert said something. Reimer’s wife has a great po’d face.

  9. rdurk86 - Dec 10, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Well, they’re essentially a .500 team with him this year…..

  10. drewsylvania - Dec 10, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    IT’S TWO GAMES.

    Trolling for hits, I see. I guess it works.

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