Well it seems Phaneuf's awesomeness has given him the ultimate honour: being featured on a Coach's Corner segment. Of course Cherry is right, Phanuef dominated the other Norris nominated defenceman in several categories, including hits and game winning goals (those don't matter do they?) I would also say he's right in claiming that most journalists wouldn't know a hockey player if they slept with Bobby Orr. (There was a 3 count on the Orr references on tonight's Coaches Corner if you were keeping track)
The problem in this case though may be precedent, rather than journalism. Since Orr the Norris has tended to go towards the highest scoring defenceman, rather than the best defenceman, and I for one think it’s a shame. We have a category for best defensive forward, so why not best defensive defenceman? Better yet, lets make the Norris the award for best defensive defenceman, and create a separate award for the highest scoring defenceman, (I saw we call it the Bobby Orr award).
Regardless, Phanuef did not have a stellar night. Although he looked good early and helped set the tone (by which I mean he creamed Maple Leaf Pohl from behind), he looked bad on two goals, including the game winner. Forget that he potentially kept Kiprusoff from identifying the puck trajectory, he helped set the whole play in motion with a bungled point pass, and was also slow to identify which man he was supposed to pick up. Perhaps he was thrown off by being the sole defenceman on the ice, but whatever the reason, it was quite a costly set of mistakes.
I was however pleasantly surprised by the game and the fact the Flames got back into it. It was especially nice to see Giordano rewarded on two occasions for his head's up play. I really think that him and Ference should be the 2nd defensive pairing, but I wonder if they are not because Ference appears to be on the number 1 penalty kill unit and Playfair wants him fresh for that.
The Flames' special teams still do not look good. Even though it looked like the Maple Leafs scored only once on the PP, that number is a bit distorted because for all intents and purposes the Flames were still shorthanded when Sundin scored in the first, as the Flames penalized players had yet to return to the play. The one positive is that Lombardi managed to score a nice shorthanded goal. He was actually one of the better-looking Flames all night.
The Flames PP didn’t look much better. Although on the Flames' first powerplay there were some early offensive sparks the Flames managed to not only NOT score, but also on one occasion take two penalties on the same power play, and on another occasion, allowed Sundin to score the shorthanded winner.
If in fact the Flames have learned to score goals, the next step is probably relearning how to keep the opposition from scoring. The Flames have allowed 4 or more goals on three occasions this year already. This is not a recipe for success, especially if you only generate about 2 goals a game.
Notes from Around the League
- An article in the Calgary Herald today lauded Kobasew's Kamikaze style of play, describing him as a player who takes the hit to make the play. I guess someone else DOES notice Kobasew tends to get hit quite often. Quite frankly it would be nice if Chuck would become known for something else…maybe scoring goals?
- Did anyone else catch the Senator's shootout lineup? Vermette, McAmmond and Fisher. No Spezza, no Alfredsson, no Heatley. If that is not the coach sending a message to his top players, I don't know what is. By the way, good on Vermette and Fisher to score.
- Despite the hard time I've given Tjarnqvist of the Edmonton Oilers, it seems he still has a few supporters, including coach Craig MacTavish. No, I don't have a quote of Mac T endorsing the game play of Tjarnqvist. What I have is his ice time statistics - 23:59 on an average night. Evidently he's Edmonton's number 1 defenceman.
- Sounds like Evgeni Malkin is set to return from his dislocated shoulder perhaps as soon as this week. That’s good news for the Penguins and its good news for me. I have him in my pool.
- Dear Cassie Campbell, you're a much better hockey player than you are a colour commentator. I'm saying this nicely because you won two gold medals for Canada, but seriously.