Don't get down on Dion Phaneuf

Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf's plus-minus rating may just be even, but he is constantly facing...

Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf's plus-minus rating may just be even, but he is constantly facing opponents' top lines. Phaneuf is also seventh in the league in ice time. (REUTERS)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:37 PM ET

Maybe it’s because he doesn’t smile much on camera.

Maybe it’s because there are times when defensive breakdowns occur, errors which don’t set him apart from anyone else in the National Hockey League.

The sense prevails that Leafs fans often aren’t comfortable with giving captain Dion Phaneuf the kind of recognition he deserves.

Phaneuf isn’t on the ice all the time, but it seems like it. He was seventh overall in ice time in the National Hockey League prior to Wednesday’s games, and long ago stopped needing a tap on the shoulder from one of the coaches to know he would be among the first over the boards on Toronto power plays and penalty kills.

He plays against the stiffest competition in the NHL and New York Rangers coach John Tortorella acknowledged last week he was trying hard to keep his star forward, Rick Nash, off the ice when Phaneuf was on.


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