October 9, 2011
Phaneuf gives rookie rough ride
By TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Don Cherry usually doesn’t need any help putting his foot in his mouth.
But Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf gave him a hand on Saturday night.
Just 48 hours after Cherry moaned on Hockey Night in Canada that we won’t see many more Scott Stevens-style hits, thanks to the NHL’s concerns over head shots, Phaneuf crushed Ottawa Senators rookie Stephane Da Costa at the Toronto blue line during the second period of the Leafs’ 6-5 victory at the Air Canada Centre.
No penalty was called. It was the kind of check that would have made Stevens proud.
Since the days that Cherry had trouble doing anything right with the Mississauga IceDogs, a situation that didn’t improve a whole lot when he went behind the bench to coach, it never has been quite clear why so many hang on his every word. He’s great at waving his arms and being loud, and, at times, makes a good point. It just doesn’t happen with regularity.
Phaneuf, meanwhile, was not pleased that Chris Neil wanted to fight him a couple of shifts after the hit, and then went after Luke Schenn.
“I don’t have to fight every time I make a big hit,” Phaneuf said. “I’m going to make that hit every day if it is there. That’s one thing that bugs me, when you make a clean hit, guys come in and you are expected to fight. I don’t have anything to prove to them.”
Immediately after the hit, Nick Foligno tried to get at Phaneuf, but was pulled away.
What did Senators coach Paul MacLean think of the check that Phaneuf threw on Da Costa, who had his head down?
“I thought it was fine,” MacLean said. “You’re allowed to body-check people. You have to accept a certain amount of risk when you play the game.
“I know I would never come across there like that. That’s the way Dion Phaneuf plays and I thought the hit was clean. I would expect no response (from NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan) other than the one we had on the ice.”
More evidence that not everything can be gleaned from the pre-season: Phil Kessel didn’t look overly interested through the exhibition games, but he has been all over the ice in the Leafs’ two regular-season games. Kessel’s hat trick was his first since April 12, 2009, when he was with the Boston Bruins. And Kessel’s forechecking with the Senators net empty was just as impressive. Ironically, the previous time a Leaf had a hat trick at home was on April 11, 2009, also against Ottawa, when Boyd Devereaux had three. It was Devereaux’s last game in the NHL ... Ron Wilson faces a nice problem with the Leafs riding two wins and off until next Saturday, when the Calgary Flames visit. Clarke MacArthur will return from a two-game suspension, and unless Tim Connolly’s upper-body injury (thought to be a shoulder problem) is a lot worse than he and the Leafs are letting on, the former Buffalo Sabre should be good to go. So who comes out of the lineup once the Leafs are done bonding in Trenton? Matt Frattin has not done a lot to justify keeping MacArthur away from Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. Philippe Dupuis and Matthew Lombardi have killed penalties well. David Steckel keeps winning faceoffs. The Leafs don’t need both Colton Orr and Jay Rosehill in uniform, though one will dress. Mike Brown’s work ethic should keep him in. There’s also a trade possibility, and Tyler Bozak, with a glut of centres, could be the one to go.
FROM THE HASH MARKS
Joffrey Lupul has noticed a clear benefit from his full participation in training camp, something that injuries kept him from doing the past two years. “My foot speed is a little better this year and I’m able to create a couple more chances for myself, using my speed and going wide,” Lupul said. “Definitely feel a lot better than last year.” ... Jake Gardiner could smell his first NHL goal late in the first period after a nice feed from Grabovski, but Craig Anderson kicked out his left leg for a fine save ... For a guy who could get by on talent alone, Grabovski digs with as much energy as anyone. Grabovski ticked off the Sens in the second period when he kept jamming at the puck, which was under the pad of Anderson, until the whistle blew ... Steckel, already making a name for himself with his stick work in the faceoff circle, looked good without it during a Senators power play. His broken stick lying in two pieces at the side boards, Steckel blocked a shot on an Erik Karlsson blast from the point ... Daniel Alfredsson probably would get booed if he saved a baby’s life during the intermission in the bowels of the ACC ... The blue-line pair of Mike Komisarek and Gardiner were minus-2 in that crazy, defence-free third period that saw the Sens score all of their goals. So was winger Colby Armstrong ... Orr’s goal was his first since last Oct. 26, when he scored against the Florida Panthers. But it broke just a personal 38-game streak as he missed most of the second half with a concussion ... On both of the Senators’ first two goals, James Reimer was probably a little deeper in his net than he would have liked.