Dion Phaneuf is obviously not playing his best these days. It’s not a surprise since he was down with the flu on Saturday. That didn’t keep him from hitting the score sheet against the Washington Capitals yesterday, but something is obviously wrong with Phaneuf.
Ever since the Olympic Break, Phaneuf has been playing notably less time as the the Leafs have gone to a seven-defensemen system. Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun notes that in that time, Phaneuf has seen his plus/minus dip from the plus-20’s to plus-13. Hornby also notes that Carl Gunnarsson has now taken the Leafs’ lead in that category due to Phaneuf falling.
Phaneuf has missed at least two practices since the Olympic break. Carlyle has called them both “maintenance” days. However, the Leafs need Phaneuf at the top of his game so if they need to sit him out a game they should.
Sure, missing practices gives him a little rest but they are nothing compared to the speed of an actual NHL game. He’s going to be skating faster and getting hit harder. The Leafs can’t risk Phaneuf going down with an injury so close to the playoffs. They’ve already lost Jonathan Bernier, they don’t need their best defenseman going down as well.
That’s just my opinion. What do you guys think?