SUN Hockey Pool

Eye could keep Phaneuf out

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

CALGARY -- With the Maple Leafs making a rare visit to Western Canada this week, a fair number of blue-and-white jerseys likely will be sprinkled throughout the Saddledome tonight.

Dion Phaneuf only hopes he can see some of them.

He wasn't seeing much yesterday. At least not out of his left eye, which was almost swollen completely shut after he was clipped by the Chicago Blackhawks' Martin Havlat Sunday.

Phaneuf was poised to deliver one of his patented bone-crushing checks when Havlat lifted his stick in an apparent effort to protect himself, carving the Calgary Flames' defenceman in the process.

Phaneuf, who wears a visor, did return to the Flames' 6-1 loss after being patched up, but admitted the swelling got worse overnight.

Yesterday the area around the eye appeared puffed and mangled. A line of at least a dozen stitches was above the eye; another set below it sealed a smaller purple gash.

Having lost games in Columbus and Chicago by a combined 9-2 score over the weekend, the Flames can ill afford to be without Phaneuf when they meet the Leafs tonight.

They may not have a choice.

"It really puts perspective on how important your eyes are to you," Phaneuf said. "It's not alot of fun walking around with one eye.

"It should be fine, hopefully. Hopefully it opens up. All you can do is ice it. That's about it."

Flames coach Mike Keenan had issues with Havlat's actions.

Said Keenan: "The discussion I had with league officials is how that could have been a major. A major for spearing, whether its trying to spear someone in the belly or the face, it's still spearing and it goes to the interpretation of the officials."

Havlat avoided being slapped with a major on the play, receiving a double minor for high sticking instead.

It's not for me to comment on; it's for the league to deal with," Phaneuf said. "Do I feel it was right the way he held up his stick to protect himself with? No. But that's all I can say about that.

"I can see out of it. When I open it I expect to see fine. I'm definitely very lucky to be able to do that."

UNDER WEATHER

If the Phaneuf situation wasn't bad enough, both Jarome Iginla and Mike Cammalleri were excused early yesterday because of the flu. Keenan expects both to play.

Meanwhile there is an air of anticipation about the Leafs appearance in the Stampede City. Tickets for this game were snapped up almost as quickly as they went on sale during the summer.

"No question it's a good format," Keenan said, adding that "I don't know if (Leaf fans) can get tickets here. It's pretty tough to do ... maybe there won't be as many Leaf fans."


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