Phaneuf needs some help

Senators forward Erik Condra is hit by Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf at Scotiabank Place in...

Senators forward Erik Condra is hit by Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., Oct. 30, 2011. (BLAIR GABLE/Reuters)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:39 PM ET

TORONTO - As strong as Dion Phaneuf has been in nearly every game for the Maple Leafs, he could use a little help.

Not necessarily from his defence partner, Carl Gunnarsson, whose overall steady performances have aided in allowing Phaneuf settle into a rhythm.

But Phaneuf, in the second of back-to-back games, was on the ice for 29 minutes 18 seconds during a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night. No matter how well the Toronto captain has been playing, that’s too much.

At the other end, Luke Schenn pitched in with 11 minutes 44 seconds. Mike Komisarek was not much better, spending 14 minutes 15 seconds on the ice. Both are being paid more than they’re worth right now. Schenn has been in a funk for most of the Leafs’ 11 games this season, while that step Komisarek thought he had regained apparently is gone again. Neither can really be trusted to be on the ice in crunch time — they barely saw the ice in the third period — and for the Leafs to be successful consistently, that can’t be a common theme.

POINT SHOTS

The pass that Senators rookie David Rundblad made to spring Colin Greening for a breakaway goal in the first period was one of the prettiest that will be made in the NHL this season. Schenn and Phaneuf might have been more intent on closing the gap, but Nikolai Kulemin was no better, making a half-hearted attempt to get his stick in the way of the pass in the neutral zone ... Those trade rumours that involved Gunnarsson a few weeks ago can be put to bed. There’s no chance the Leafs will move Gunnarsson when he is such an integral part of Phaneuf’s game ... The Battle of Ontario doesn’t need dumb penalties to make it intense. But that didn’t stop Tim Connolly from popping Chris Phillips in the face after Robin Lehner covered the puck in the second period. Jonas Gustavsson saved Connolly from further embarrassment when he kicked out his left leg to drive away a Sergei Gonchar blast from the slot ... There was some idea that the interference call on Kulemin in the second period, a penalty that was made worse when Chris Neil scored on the ensuing power play, was soft. But the penalty was warranted, as Kulemin ran a pick on a Senators player at the Ottawa blue line as the Leafs broke into the zone ... Senators fans might wonder about their favourite team’s group of forwards, but three youngsters on the blue line — Rundblad, Erik Karlsson and Jared Cowen — should provide plenty of hope for the future ... It’s great that David Steckel wins draws when the Leafs are shorthanded and that the penalty killers are being aggressive, but something remains absent. The Leafs were 27th in penalty killing last season, and before Sunday night, once more were 27th in the NHL ... Tyler Bozak spent much of 2010-11 lamenting the fact that he didn’t convert on a lot of his scoring opportunities, finishing with 15 goals in 82 games. Now that he has been relegated to the third line, his chances won’t come as often. Bozak has no goals in nine games, but he’s not the least productive forward in that area. Rookie Matt Frattin, with no goals in 11 games, can boast that. One has to wonder how long Frattin will be around if he does not start putting the puck in the net. Sending him to the Marlies might kill his confidence, but could it be restored quickly with some success in the minors?

FROM THE HASH MARKS

Sticks don’t seem to break as much as they once did, but Frattin and Greening both had theirs snap for no apparent reason in the first period. Not surprisingly, both were trying to make a play in the offensive zone when their sticks shattered ... It’s one of those things that drives goalies nuts: During a scramble, Connolly came from behind Jason Spezza and pushed the Sens star on to Gustavsson, who was lying prone on the ice. Hockey players will go to great lengths to protect their goalies, but pushing an opponent on top of their netminder never has been seen as much of a problem. Strange ... Leafs defenceman John-Michael Liles hasn’t traded in his Indianapolis Colts fan club membership card, and doesn’t plan to. The Colts, without the injured Peyton Manning, are 0-8. “They had a pretty good run for a long time,” Liles, an Indianapolis native, said. “That’s a tough job for anybody to step into. Manning controls the entire game.” ... Though it might be a bit early to loudly sound the alarm bells, there is bound to be some concern in the Leafs organization in regard to defenceman Keith Aulie, who is a team-worst minus-7 with the Marlies through that club’s first nine games. Aulie, who played in 40 games for the Leafs last season, does not have a point for the Marlies. Nazem Kadri, meanwhile, is minus-2 and has no points in two games with the AHL team.


Videos

Photos