Sunday, January 3, 2010

on dion....

i think it's time to have a bit of a "talk" about dion phaneuf, here, since it appears that the guy is gonna be sidelined for a wee while with some kind of injury (if anyone saw the cassie campbell / brent sutter post game, we know that dion has an injury to "his body", and that brent actually smiled after making that joke, so i can't imagine it's season-ending).

the first thing that i want to say is that, from MY eye, the flames played noticeably better against los angeles after dion got ejected. i might also note that, from where i was sitting last night, the team looked tighter in the third period while #3 remained in the lockerroom.... two incredibly bad signs when discussing a six-and-a-half million dollar blueliner with four years left on his contract....

if there's any truth to the rumour that cory sarich is mere moments away from a triumphant (and healthy) return, then the thought of phaneuf spending some time on IR isn't scary, it's fascinating.... the next few weeks could be a veritable litmus test to gauge if regehr's struggles are dion-related, and if the team plays smarter, faster, better hockey without phaneuf on the ice...

the way i see it, the D will improve whether sarich slots in beside #28 as a "shut down" type duo, or if he returns to his september-era pairing with gio, leaving regehr to settle in with the team's defacto#1 guy (jaybouw). there's no question that the johnson pardy is thriving with third pairing minutes/matchups and i think messing with them at this juncture would be an enormous error... if i'm right, then dion becomes totally expendable and daz would be smart to trade him ASAP.

straight up, my reasonning is as follows (as pointed out on M&G a few days ago) : if I know he’s terrible, and YOU know he’s terrible, then it’s just a matter of time before bryan murray figures out that he’s terrible (i use murray as an example, here, cause he'll obviously be the very last nhl GM to come to this realization). if there are still credible people talking about dion as a contender to the canadian olympic team blueline (and there are), then his value is probably at the apex and on the brink of a massive plummet....

another commenter insisted i would miss dion's point shot, if he were traded, and yes --the odd time that his slapper actually hits the net, i would miss it. but let's face it, folks, gio and pardy are sinking more of those these days than dion is, and #3's still getting the fully sweet PP minutes..... if he were to be dealt, there's no question that i would definitely be bummed that my team was on the receiving side of a huge, debateably clean, open ice phaneufing....

but here's the thing: i would not miss the uncreative and totally redundant shot from the blueline that dion takes EVERY. SINGLE. TIME he receives a pass there on a powerplay. i would also not miss him lining up the big hits but avoiding further physical contact, often leaving him standing in front of the net taking neither the puck nor the man while the opposition bangs around and scores (with bertuzzi gone and jokinen somewhat re-trained, dion is easily the most painful to watch, currently).... furthermore, i wouldn’t miss the ill-advised joining of the rush (which, admittedly, doesn’t happen very often these days), nor would i miss the caveman-style interview with any journalist other than cabbie. and i CERTAINLY wouldn’t miss watching the puck bounce over his stick while he tries (and fails) to hold the line, or the lack of urgency (some might call laziness or indifference) to chasing down pucks of any sort. ohyeah, and i wouldn’t miss his salary if it was off the books…..

kelly hrudey made mention a few months ago that, under mike keenan, dion was used to taking minute-long shifts and therefore was conditionned to rest on-ice. this made perfect sense to me, and served to explain why dion went from hard-working to lazy-looking. i presumed that neither brent sutter nor ryan mcgill would stand for this, would shorten his shifts, and expect more urgency in his play. while his shifts are largely shorter, his play has not changed... when sutter(s) talk accountability, i would rebut with this point.

clearly dion has the tools to be an elite defenseman in the NHL but i'm not entirely convinced that he's willing or able to make use of them.... i think the timing of this injury could prove him outrageously overpaid, and i think he would therefore need to be dealt without delay while his value is still elevated, possibly for a high-end forward to play some top line minutes.... maybe daz could pull milan michalek out from underneath bryan murray's nose...

;)


10 comments:

Hayley M. said...

Great commentary on the situation! I was at Superskills today and Sarich participated, which means he must be close to seeing some game action. It'll definitely be interesting to see how this team plays without Phaneuf in the lineup, if he is out for an extended period of time, as Sarich is a more than capable 3-4 d-man.

Hayley M. said...

And another thing, it'll be better to have him not playing at all than playing terribly whie injured like last season.

This injury really could be a blessing in disguise.

Kent W. said...

I'd say Glen Sather is even more clueless than Murray and you know I don't think much of Murray.

walkinvisible said...

kent: okay, sure. but NYR doesn't have any good players to trade for....

hayley: the injury point could be valid --it was presumed that he had a chronic back/rib problem last year and i suppose it's possible that hasn't been resolved....

duncan said...

Fantastic entry. This is why I don't post: You're way too thoughtful.

Couldn't agree more this is going to be an interesting period, but I think it's Gio's emergence as much as anything that's made Dion expendable, especially for some cheaper, Top-2 forward line help.

Subversive said...

This...

if I know he’s terrible, and YOU know he’s terrible, then it’s just a matter of time before bryan murray figures out that he’s terrible (i use murray as an example, here, cause he'll obviously be the very last nhl GM to come to this realization)

...literally made me snort/laugh out loud.

Nice work, and good analysis. Here's hoping Sarich comes back strong.

mikeH said...

Truly solid post. I'm loving this situation; a chance to show that Dion standing around poking someone with his stick isn't really what an elite defenceman is supposed to be doing.

From what I've noticed this season, Dion's primary role has been to punish the shin pads of the opposition PK line. Between Dion, our staff goal-post tester (O.J.), and Connie's new skates, I'm starting to wonder if maybe the Flames have a side contract with the Canadian Standards Assoc. or Underwriters Laboratories to test hockey equipment.

M.

p.s. My saddest hockey moment in the past week - when the woman next to me at the NYE game asked, "Has QMac ever had a shutout?" Poor Backelhinny, I should have counted the seconds. :(

walkinvisible said...

mikeH: i remember looking at the clock with 3:31 remaining and thinking that backelhinney might actually notch the naught.

about 1:44 later, and with 1:45 left it was gone.

poor cumac. he's looked pretty good this year....

wrkd4it said...

I SO agree with you here. At the LA game we were ranting that D.P was so slow, and so uninvolved with the "taking out the man" at the net, and generally seeming to live for getting OFF the ice. We didn't realize he was hurt but did notice in the 3rd period that he hadn't played, and thought maybe he had been benched. We also noticed how much better we thought the Flames were playing that period. Surely SOMEBODY in authority has to notice these things, too??

wrkd4it said...

Oops! Mak that "At the Leafs/Flames game..."