Phaneuf's Been a Big Hit This Year

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Jonas Gustavsson #50 of the Toronto Maple Leafs has his mask knocked off during the game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on December 5, 2011 in New York City. The Leafs defeated the Rangers 4-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Dion Phaneuf Becomes a Hit by Taking Fewer of Them - James "The Turtle" Mirtle at the Globe and Mail

"He (Phaneuf)used to, wherever you’d pass the puck, if he didn’t get a hit, he’d chase the puck," Wilson recalled. "We thought as long as you had your head up, you could entice him into running around a little bit.

"Especially in the neutral zone. He was always looking for a hit."

While Phaneuf’s improvement in Toronto wasn’t immediate, slowly but surely he has got better in his own end. And, after 120 games as a Leaf, the coaching staff relies on him to kill penalties and face opponents’ top lines every night.

His offensive contributions have also begun to return, as he sits third in team scoring behind Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul entering Friday’s game against the Washington Capitals.

Since the all-star break last season, Phaneuf has produced at a 59-point pace – on par with his best season with the Flames – in part because he passes more and misses the net less than before.

In short Flames unable to properly coach young, elite talent into a well rounded NHLer and are "forced" to trade him. El oh freaking el. More links after the jump.

Leafs Links

Ron Wilson has Fond Memories of Coaching Dale Hunter

Mawwwwwwwww.

Joe Colborne Returns to the Marlies

With Armstrong coming back and his playing on the 4th line, it makes sense.

Should the Leafs Extend Ron Wilson?

Not until the Playoffs. Yes if they make it. No otherwise.

Where Will the Real Toughness Up Front Come From?

I would say that a lot of successful teams get by without it.

Cody Franson: To Play or not To Play

I'd rather him than Aulie, but that's just me.

Other Links and Junk

Penguins Ready to Take Fans "Into the Room" with Web Reality Series

What a fantastic idea.

Stajan-Watch: Blakey Come Lately

Waiver pick-up besting Phaneuf trade keystone.

USA Announces Preliminary (WJC) Roster

Uh oh indeed.

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