A note on Dion Phaneuf’s “curious” second half…

Local strawman Steve Simmons writes the following:

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…

Weird, huh.

Me, after Game 42:

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

(Stats via timeonice pages found here and here)

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!

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  • Leaf Fan in Mexico

    Your “predict” Bozak’s future point pace post earlier this season did not work out as convincingly as Phaneuf. He was at .88 ppg pace for the first 25 games and finished at .82ppg in his last 34 games.

    Phaneuf was an example where regression occurred reasonably well. But let’s at least own up that Bozak got the better of most of the advanced stats crowd this year (rather then just presenting cases that were it was nailed and ignoring the ones that did not work out).

    And we should trade him now at a high point in his career before some fans and media will complain if his production drops to his career level of .62ppg. That said, Bozak himself has said he won’t continue scoring at that high rate.

  • Leaf Fan in Mexico

    Or, you could say that in the first half of the season Dion was healthy and preventing scoters from getting shots from dangerous scoring areas and goalies were able to stop the crappy shots from the sides and outside and in the last month or so he got hurt or whatever and was no longer able to protect his goalies from the quality chances against? – a much more reasonable explanation and much more in tune with what we’ve all seen watching the Leafs and their captain this season.

  • Leaf Fan in Mexico

    I feel bad for Phaneuf, he is playing with players that would be a 4-5-6 option on most teams. The guy has to do more work because of it and is playing the teams top lines night in night out. If he was paired with kronwall or seabrook, Keith doughty , he would be used alot more effectively. As for the long shot comment if you offered any teams Phaneuf for vlasic or hamhuis both teams would jump at that trade in a second. He is under appreciated by the fans but other teams would love to have him he is top pairing d on any team in Nhl. I hope they take the C away from him not for his lack of leadership, I doubt any one in the dressing room would complain about his leadership but maybe the letter is to much for him to live up to. Hopefully with this high draft pick they can package maybe gunner and a prospect for a high quality d or make a big push for weber:)