The Leafs are playing two of the NHL’s top seven teams over the next three games, and Dion Phaneuf will not play in two of them.
Brendan Shanahan and the Department of Player Safety have decided to suspend Phaneuf for two games for his his on Kevan Miller. Here’s Shanahan’s video:
Most pundits were predicting that Phaneuf would get 2-3 games for this hit, so all things considered, the Leafs’ captain got off somewhat lightly. Phaneuf has a reputation for destroying guys, but not for dirty hits like this. It was a poor judgment on his part, but his otherwise clean record was likely the main reason he got two instead of three. It’s also noteworthy that Miller got up from the hit and appeared to be OK. He even left the game with a souvenir puck for scoring his first career NHL goal!
The Leafs’ next two games are back-to-back, first against Ben Scrivens and the mighty L.A. Kings, and then the equally mighty St. Louis Blues the next night. The Kings currently sit sixth in the NHL and the Blues are in seventh. These would have been tough games to win anyway. Without Phaneuf in the lineup – hooo boy.
Phaneuf’s suspension, if you can believe it, is the Leafs FIFTH of the season. David Clarkson got 10 games for leaving the bench to grab John Scott, Phil Kessel got three for slashing John Scott, Carter Ashton got two games for a hit on Derek Smith vs. Calgary, Nazem Kadri got three games for steamrolling Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, and now Phaneuf gets two games. If you want to split hairs, Phil Kessel wasn’t suspended for any regular season games. Still, the Leafs have had five suspensions so far and it’s not even Christmas. What’s going on?
If I may try to take lemons and make lemonade, Phaneuf was starting to look pretty banged up. Maybe it’s not so bad that he’s getting a couple of games off. The odds of the Leafs beating the Kings or Blues even with him in the lineup are not fantastic. If the Leafs do win, it’s certainly a bonus.
Plus there’s this, which is nice.
Joffrey Lupul skating with Kulemin and Holland. Could be set to return tomorrow.
— David Alter (@DavidAlter590) December 10, 2013
Leafs revamped defence pairings with Phaneuf out: Gunnarsson-Franson, Gardiner-Liles, Fraser-Ranger. Rielly sobbing in corner.
— James Mìrtle (@mirtle) December 10, 2013