Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle said captain Dion Phaneuf was used too much — 32:38 — during Saturday’s 5-2 loss in New York, and put the blame on himself and his staff.
“I don’t think that Dion’s ready to play 30-plus minutes and he played 32,” Carlyle said on Monday. “So we have to take responsibility for that as a coaching staff.”
Carlyle chalked the minutes up to line matching. Phaneuf was primarily out against the Rangers’ top line of Marian Gaborik, Rick Nash and Brad Richards — the trio played often and finished with eight points — though that wasn’t the only reason for Phaneuf’s big minutes.
“I felt we should have him on for every defensive zone face-off and then, when we didn’t execute off the defensive zone face-off to get the puck out of our zone, we got trapped in our zone too many times with him on the ice,” Carlyle explained. “Again, that’s a call that has to come from the coaching staff. I don’t think it makes much sense to have him play 32 minutes.”
All this said, don’t expect Phaneuf to see significantly less ice time when Toronto takes on Buffalo tonight. The Leafs rearguard has been a workhorse in other games this year as well, averaging 27:56 per game.
In his last contest against the Sabres — a 2-1 loss back on Jan. 21 — Phaneuf played a game-high 28:43.
Looks as though slumping Dallas winger Valeri Nichushkin could be a healthy scratch tonight when the Stars host the Oilers at American Airlines.
Per the Morning-News, Nichushkin — who barely played in the second and third periods of Saturday’s 6-3 loss to Colorado — is likely to be replaced by Colton Sceviour in the lineup.
Stars head coach Lindy Ruff was fuming after the Avs defeat, calling it “embarrassing, worse than disappointing.” It didn’t take a genius to realize one of the players in his doghouse was Nichushkin, who had just 2:02 of ice time in the second period and 3:24 in the third.
Yesterday, Ruff dropped Nichushkin to the fourth line in practice.
“I’ve been trying to help him by shifting him around,” the head coach explained. “He had some struggles early in camp on right wing, so I put him on left, and he doesn’t seem real comfortable at left right now.
“His game, everything has got to get a little bit quicker.”
The 10th overall pick in 2013, Nichushkin has struggled to build on the form shown in his rookie campaign, when he scored 14 goals and 34 points in 79 contests.
He missed nearly all of last season with a linger hip ailment and has been a virtual non-factor through the first two games this year.
When the Los Angeles Kings announced they’d settled with Mike Richards, it didn’t take long for the accusations of salary-cap circumvention to materialize.
And though NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was adamant that the settlement was “far from” circumvention, apparently not everyone agrees with the league in that regard.
“Privately, other teams are screaming bloody murder and are threatening to make an issue about it at December’s Board of Governors’ meeting,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports.
Friedman goes into more detail in his story, so click the link to read more.
But remember how we wrote that the issue in this case was precedent, and that the “NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door”?
Well, one agent posed a good question to Friedman: “What’s to stop other teams from trying this?”