Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf is one of only two players on the team to have played in all 82 games this season. Although he wasn’t able to rally his team to the playoffs and ended the year with a -10 rating, this was arguably his best season since ’08-’09.Just shy of two years after being named Leafs captain, the 27-year-old prepares to enter his third full season with the Toronto team in October.
This past season was his first in which he played in all 82 games since 2007-08 with the Calgary Flames and also saw him play in the third All-Star Game of his career.
Phaneuf’s season began strong, as he had a goal and an assist in the Leafs’ first game of the year, a 2-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens before adding an assist in their second game. Three points in two games? Not too shabby.
His impressive start continued; although he had no points in a game against his former Calgary team, Phaneuf went on to a four-game point streak (1-5) in games against Colorado, Winnipeg, Boston and Montreal.
This would be his longest point streak of the season, matched three other times (Nov. 19-25, Dec. 31-Jan. 7, Feb. 28-Mar. 6), and October would turn out to be Phaneuf’s best month, as he notched eleven points in eleven games and had a plus-7 rating.
He began November with no points in the first four games, but ended the month on a high note with six points in four games before beginning a long drought which began November 27 and stretched until mid-December.
A game on December 16 against the Buffalo Sabres is an interesting one to note. Phaneuf took just one shot in the game – but it was a good one, as he scored on it. He proceeded to get a five-minute major for boarding, along with a game misconduct, which gave him the lowest TOI he’d have all season, 15:01.
Phaneuf would cap off the year – and begin 2012 – with another four-game point streak before going eight games without so much as a goal or an assist. This was his longest pointless streak of the season, and he ended a -3 in that stretch.
January would also see Phaneuf go to the All-Star Game, where he was elected a starter after finishing second in defense voting (behind only Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson).
February was a bit kinder to the Leafs captain, as he had two goals and seven assists in 14 games. The final four-game point streak of his season came from Feb. 28 until March 6, where he had six assists in four games. Finally, March saw him notch four points before the final three games of the year came in April, where he scored in both of the final two games.
Overall, Phaneuf played over 2,030 minutes of icetime this season. He had 12 goals, 32 assists and 202 shots in that amount of time, with an average of over 25 minutes TOI per game. He never scored more than one goal per game and never scored goals in consecutive games.
Will the third time be the charm for Phaneuf and the Leafs next season? Will they finally make the playoffs under his leadership? Only time can tell – questions will become answers…… soon.