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.