Phaneuf's counting numbers continued their increasingly impressive rise to 17 goals and and 60 points. I don't think he had any single highlight reel hits this year but that's ok, I'm more concerned with his actual defensive presence.
I don't think there was any better illustration of Phaneuf's shortcomings than in the playoffs against San Jose. While there was no doubt he was contributing offensively (3G, 7PTS), it was nothing less than heart attack hockey seeing him go against Joe Thornton. It's unfair to accuse Phaneuf of not being strong enough, but quite frankly, he just couldn't handle Thornton, especially down low. There's no shame in that obviously, Thornton is one of the league's elite. It just appears that Phaneuf isn't, at least when it comes to defensive zone coverage. Not yet anyway.Looking at behindthenet.ca numbers I think we can get a bit of a year long illustration of what I'm saying. His offensive numbers are all stellar, (1st in GFON for defencemen, 1st in pts/60 for defencemen, etc). He's obviously a workhorse (1st overall in EVTOI/60) but I have to think that at least some of his totals are because of the fact he gets top notch teammates.
The disappointing part of the behindthenet.ca numbers come in the fact we can see he's facing 2nd tier opposition and not really stopping them from scoring goals. He's not even in the first half of defenceman in terms of opposition shutdown ability.
Right now Phaneuf is a very good defenceman, but if he ever hopes to win that Norris he was nominated for he needs to tighten up his defensive zone coverage.
Projection: number 1 defenceman
Key Stat: 1st for defenceman in GFON and PTS/60