The first-half, second-half thing with Phaneuf was curious. He was sound the first-half, in Team Canada long-shot consideration, and disastrous over the final quarter of the season…
Per Behind the Net, Phaneuf and Gunnarsson have the two highest PDOs on the team. We’ll see what those look like after the next 40 games.
And what happened?
|Corsi %||Leafs Sh%||Leafs Sv%||PDO|
|First 42 GP||42.3%||7.8%||0.971||1.049|
|Last 40 GP||38.7%||8.8%||0.923||1.011|
His Corsi didn’t change much. Like the rest of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he gave up a zillion shots in the second half of the season.
His PDO notably dropped though. Fair to Simmons to not being aware of PDO, which is the addition of shooting and save percentages. It’s only been used by hockey analysts since 2008. I guess when Dion Phaneuf was +13 after the Winter Classic, we could easily accept that the goaltenders behind him would continue to put up a .971 save percentage.
But no. This is just a reminder that big percentage swings to one side aren’t necessarily indicative of talent, but luck to some degree. I think Phaneuf is a fine defenceman and a good team some day is going to employ him as a No. 1. That isn’t the current Toronto Maple Leafs, however, but it’s not like Phaneuf’s regression in the second half of the season should be particularly surprising—like a lot of Maple Leafs, he was getting crushed in shot differential and it was only a matter of time that the goals would catch up to him.
So, no, nothing is “curious” about Phaneuf’s second half. He didn’t really change his style of play. The bounces didn’t all go his way like they did in the first 40 games in the second half and that made it look like Phaneuf wasn’t capable of a No. 1 role.
He is, though. This is nothing against Phaneuf. Thinking “hm, maybe Dion Phaneuf won’t continue to get .971 goaltending behind him” isn’t exactly a knock on Dion’s talent. Thinking he will, as Simmons did, is just elevating expectations to an unreasonable degree, as we will see in our season concluding post starring Tyler Bozak.
So… stay tuned for that one!