Monday, April 28, 2008

Really? No, REALLY?


Well, he is, and there, I said it.

What else is he though? For some, unfathomable reason, Dion Phaneuf is a Norris candidate. Why? Well, honestly, I don't know. I cannot find a single reason why he should be a Norris candidate, besides the fact that he was on the ice a lot, has a good slapshot, and is a physical hockey player.

That's it. Problem is, the all the tools in the world don't make you a Norris defenseman if you don't have the toolbox, and as was said in a Calgary Sun article, and voted on by NHL players, Dion Phaneuf is one of the most over-rated players in the NHL.

But, in fairness, lets try to first make a list of things we would expect from a Norris caliber defenseman. We would reasonably expect that he can play at both ends of the ice, and in all situations, and excel. That means EV, PK and PP. We expect that he would constantly play the other teams best players, especially at home, and out-play them. We expect he would be called "complete" and make the other players around him better, instead of victimized.

Does all of this seem reasonable so far? As far as I can tell, this is what I would expect of a Norris defenseman. A Lidstrom, Pronger, Timonen, Gonchar, etc.

Lets take a look at Phaneuf now, shall we?


The Flames played 5 home games against San Jose, 4 against Colorado, 4 against Minnesota, 2 against Detroit, 2 against Anaheim, 2 against Dallas, and 2 against Nashville. The highest scoring player on each of these teams was: Joe Thornton, Paul Stastny, Marian Gaborik, Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Ribeiro and JP Dumont.

In these 21 games*, Dion Phaneuf played a whopping 359.1 minutes, equal to 17.1 ES minutes a game. Yet, against the top scorers on each team, he played a combined, get ready for this, all of 115.1. That's not even 1/3 of his ice time. This was at home. With Keenan having last change.

Worse yet? How did he fair against these players?


Lit up. Like a Christmas tree.

But hey, he had that dominating physical play right? That makes up for it? Well, sure, if you want to consider the fact that he lead the league in minor penalties with 60, and the Flames were more likely to go to the PK than the PP with Phaneuf on the ice. Did he put up some nice counting stats? Absolutely. But not against anyone whose name we know. And I'm pretty sure, that should be an important criteria when deciding if a guy is a top defenseman or not, should it not be?

I won't comment on his PP ability - I think he's one of the better triger men in the league.

However, his PK ability, another important facet of the game, is yet another problem for 'the Dion.' A quick look at shows he played a lot on the PK, about 2 and a half minutes a game, and was the third most often used defenseman in Calgary on the PK. So, he was second unit on the PK, and, once again, likely saw softer competition on the PK. So his PK numbers should rock, correct?

Well. Not really.

When Phaneuf was on the ice, the Flames were scored on about 7.15 times every 60 minutes. When Phaneuf was off the ice, the Flames were scored on about 6.13 times every 60 minutes.

In other words, when he killed penalties, the puck ended up in his net more often than when he rode the pine.

So... my question is, how on Earth is he a Norris Nominee? Anyone? Are the MSM writers really THIS dumb that they couldn't notice that A) he was being sheltered B) he got lit up when he wasn't sheltered and C) he can't play defense to save his life?

*During two of these games, one against Minny and one against Colorado, the offensive star was injured, so I took the second leading scorer in each case - Bouchard, and Brunette, for that specific game.


PunjabiOil said...

Excellent post. I agree wholeheartedly.

The issue is with the mainstream media.

EV+/EV-? F*** off

PK stats? Who cares

PP points? More! More!

Along that booming shot. Those bone-crushing hits. Those sexy counting stats in goals, assists, and points. All of which can be viewed the next morning during TSN's morning edition of Sportscentre, given the fact that the Eastern MSM is in bed by the 1st intermission.

But EV+/EV-, EVGA/60? Get bent.

MikeP said...

You forgot the most important reason he's a Norris candidate: he's a defenceman! Yeah, take that Horcoff, there's an award you'll never win, even if you play D better than Phaneuf!

Oilman said...

Dion Phaneuf is one of the most over-rated players in the NHL.

I think you can now remove "one of". Phaneuf is now officially the most over-rated player in the league.

Kish said...

wow, finally. I've thought this for so long... i'm not alone (weeps tears of joy)

PunjabiOil said...

Someone please disagree. Otherwise, people will think there is group-think is evident in the 'sphere.

LittleFury said...

Someone please disagree. Otherwise, people will think there is group-think is evident in the 'sphere.

All y'all are crazy. The Dion is a MONSTAAAAAAR!!! He doesn't need good defensive play or any of that jive talk. The fact that he's up for the Norris despite not being qualified on any level simply proves his awesomeness.


agb said...

When I click on the NHL player's poll link, Sun Media asks me for 12 dollars to read the article in its entirety. Is this normal practice for the Sun to charge $12 for a 5 month old article, or part of the conspiracy to make Phaneuf look good?

PDO said...


Bit of both, I think ;). He was voted 3rd most over-rated.... the two guys ahead of him were Bertuzzi and McCabe. Can't say I can remember the order.

This shit just blows my mine though.

Backhand said...

One thing about his game that stands out to me is how he is always good for about 3 plays where he is completely out of position.

Either he guesses the winger is going wide and the go inside or vice versa but it is usually a blatantly bad choice that often results in a goal.

I'll defend Phaneuf in saying that for his age he is pretty amazing and that probably plays a role. He is the best YOUNG defenceman in the game no?

Not a lot of guys around 22 doing what he is doing. Even most of the greats of today didn't do what he's doing at that age. Though i'm sure there are some.

Backhand said...

I just checked: 23 years old as of a couple weeks ago.

doritogrande said...

What does Sergei Zubov need to do to finally garner some Norris respect? Move back to NY?

therealdeal said...

It's not that I really disagree with you here, but let's face it, the Norris trophy has been the 'offensive defenceman' award for some time. In that category I understand why Dion made it.

Plus the MSM isn't necessarily dumb, just lazy. The guys in the east are asleep when Phaneuf plays and only see the highlights.

Moose said...

I thank you, kind Sir. Finally someone has provided a well reasoned, statistically-based argument to support my ranting.

Icecastles said...

Aaaah, I love it. I've been sending this one around since you put the link up on Lowetide, recently. Supersharp article. I'm still waiting to see him fight MacIntyre...

I just hope Phaneuf doesn't play dirty and hit him with his chin. He could impale someone on that thing.