#1 From one to 23, its hard to find a better sq von lebaobei123 15.03.2019 03:42

TORONTO – It was late March and the Maple Leafs captain was just about out of gas. Torontos season had spiraled out of control with eight straight regulation losses and Dion Phaneuf was feeling the effects of some of the most difficult minutes any NHL defender had played that season. "Id be lying to say that it did not wear you down," said Phaneuf, in jovial spirits at the start of training camp this week. "When youre playing those big minutes, by the time Game 70 comes around, you might be feeling it a little more." One of the more interesting subplots to the coming season will be the 29-year-old and his usage with the club under returning head coach, Randy Carlyle. No defender in the league played against more difficult competition than Phaneuf last season – according to the advanced statistics website, Behind the Net – and only one defender, teammate and now former defence partner Carl Gunnarsson, started fewer shifts in the offensive zone (38.8 per cent). Phaneuf struggled under the weight of that burden, posting poor possession numbers and the worst offensive output (on a per-game basis) of his Leafs career, just 31 points in 80 games. He was noticeably worn down as winter turned to spring; that subtlety never more apparent than on Mar. 25 when he made three glaring errors in a 5-3 defeat against St. Louis, too heated afterward to speak with the media. "The bottom line is that I had to be better," Phaneuf said. "I take full responsibility for that. Whether its worn down or too many minutes early, thats excuses; the bottom line is, I didnt play well enough in the last 20 games. I was disappointed in that." Lacking other trusted options, Carlyle leaned hardest on Phaneuf in the most challenging of situations – many of which started in the defensive zone opposite the games top stars. That treatment was markedly more difficult than how Phaneuf was employed under the previous head coach, Ron Wilson. Under Wilson, Phaneufs quality of competition was not nearly as high, his defensive zone starts hovering close to 50 per cent. So what can or will the Leafs do to ensure that their top defenceman isnt worn down by the stretch drive this season? Adding more experience was designed to help. Offseason additions Stephane Robidas and Roman Polak could stand to absorb some of the more challenging competition and defensive zone starts from Phaneuf. That would free him up to play more in the offensive zone while also not grinding him to the ground with shift after shift against the oppositions best. "I think it will help me personally but I think it will help our whole defensive core," Phaneuf said of the two offseason additions, both coming from the West. "Theyre guys that can eat minutes. And I think that benefits everyone." Growth from Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly would also aid in that process. Phaneuf, who will move back to his natural left side, projects to play with one of Robidas or Polak at the start of the regular season, intent on using the exhibition schedule to develop some familiarity with whomever it might be. That may be difficult in the case of Robidas – the better fit based on past experience and skill-set – who may not be ready to play until the final days of the preseason (knee), if at all before the regular season kicks off on Oct. 8. Phaneuf was pushing an average of 25 minutes per night through January last season; that number cut some in the second half. There were nights, nonetheless, when the ice-time mushroomed, like Mar. 1 when he logged nearly 31 minutes against Montreal. Optimal ice-time for Phaneuf, he believes, lies in the range of 23-24 minutes nightly, but that simplifies how different the quality of ice (more challenging) he logs is from that of his teammates. His minutes were actually slightly more difficult (by the numbers, at least) from those played by Shea Weber, Zdeno Chara, and Ryan Suter. Phaneuf is not Weber, Chara or Suter and putting him in situations even more difficult than a trio of that caliber is not putting him in the best possible position to succeed. Carlyle – who was unavailable for comment Friday – can lighten the load on his captain (all the more important as Phaneuf digs deeper into a seven-year deal). Will he do so? "My job is to go out and play when Im tapped to go and play," Phaneuf said. "Whatever my role is, Im going to play it to the best of my ability. Theres no easy minutes if thats your question. I think when youre playing shutdown minutes and youre shutting down the other teams top lines, theyre challenging minutes and its about managing them and getting the most out of yourself to help your team win games." Cheap Air Jordan 12 . 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