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Hockey Analytics

Phaneuf: The Gardiner Bump

by Gus Katsaros
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Moving parts and extensive background exists on the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators trade chiefly involving Leafs captain, Dion Phaneuf. The Leafs coaching staff changed the way Dion would be used and with a more stable, permanent partnership with Jake Gardiner.

 

Phaneuf seemed to heap the expectations of being the on-ice leader and got himself into trouble when overcompensating, overcommitting or simply over-executing. He was attempting to do more than he could, with skills slowly deteriorating.

 

Ideally, Dion Phaneuf will partner with Cody Ceci in Ottawa a mobile and worthy puck mover, forming the second pairing, allowing the Erik Karlsson/Marc Methot pairing to do what it does best, carry the play offensively. A second pairing in support mimics the role and responsibility attained in 2015-16, a positive bump by coaching staff … the Gardiner bump.

 

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Toronto assumingly pumped Dion Phaneuf’s value by partnering him with Jake Gardiner and moved the pairing down the rotation to face less dangerous competition in order to fool other teams of Phaneuf’s perceived value. Jonathan Willis implied such in his write up on the trade, indicating how the Leafs efforts somehow tricked the Sens into trading for the blueliner. I don’t buy the philosophy of tricking an opponent based on shenanigans, but there’s merit to the idea that requires some exploration. Jigging Phaneuf’s role and usage based on Mike Babcock’s coaching vision paired with Phaneuf’s ability created the slot into which the defenseman naturally thrived. Coaching staff eschewed the revolving door of partners and permanently assigned him a worthy partner. I think this is more a strategical deployment than pumping up stats to enhance trade value.

 

I’ve written about the three pronged elements of defensive system before, this is the flow.

 

Engage -- > Support -- > Transition

 

Gardiner is the support defenseman in that pairing, working off the work provided by Phaneuf as the engage (forwards provide reinforcement for the engage, then become options as the support). Dion’s job was to get to work on getting the puck back, initializing to push the transition from defense to offense. Gardiner’s job was to skate it out, or start the transition to the attack, his specialty skills.

 

I’ve referenced this when analyzing Gardiner. Defensive warts aside, he’s a uniquely talented puck carrier and rusher, capable of some incredible rushes, similar to the play that led to the Leafs third goal against the Calgary Flames.

 

Having the ability to rush certainly helps create options and possible puzzle pieces come together. 


Consider the Results

 

 

TOI

GF%

CF%

With Gardiner

572:24

50.0

53.2

Without Gardiner

270:25

28.6

47.4

Gardner without Phaneuf

239:09

47.1

54.2

 

Using a Spider WOWY from Micah Blake McCurdy site hockeyviz.com, we can see this pairing falls into a favorable shot against level while driving play the other way, especially in comparison to placement with other defense partners.

 

Up until a handful of games leading up to the trade, at 5v5 Phaneuf spent the most time with Gardiner while over the past four games, his primary partner was Frankie Corrado (33.3 GF%, 60.8 CF%) while Gardiner partnered with Roman Polak.

 

Here’s how the season breaks down (although four games with another partner isn’t a strong enough sample to make judgement) for Phaneuf.

 

5v5

 CF%Rel

 SCF%Rel

 HSCF%Rel

 FF%Rel

 SF%Rel

CF%

OI Sh%

Ssn to date

0.861

3.004

6.211

2.185

4.022

49.3

5.24

Last 4 GP

5.725

3.200

-6.025

5.700

7.025

56.5

3.38

 

One can speculate on the days leading to the trade if there was a deal to be made, did the Senators ask for an audition away from Gardiner? We may never know.

 

Passing Project

 

I decided to go through Phaneuf’s records in the passing project and made a few notes, like his penchant of using the middle to make passes, very rarely from outside the dots. This is all at 5v5 strength.

 

A1, A2 & A3 refers to the player making the pass and A1, A2, A3 zone is the area where the pass originated. Zones are prefixed with an O for Offensive zone, N – Neutral, D – Defensive zone, while the last letters indicate the side of the ice the pass originated.

 

As the third pass before a shot event, most frequent passes originated from the center, and they mostly went to forwards.

 

Shooter

Shot Type?

A1

A2

A3

A1 Zone

A2 Zone

A3 Zone

SC?

SOG?

23

W

42

23

3

dl

nl

ol

 

Y

47

W

42

21

3

orrl

dsl

dc

y

y

44

W

47

2

3

opr

dsl

nc

 

y

43

T

47

21

3

or

oelc

ol

y

 

2

W

43

21

3

oelc

dl

dc

   

42

W

19

46

3

oc

nc

nl

 

y

3

O

19

23

3

orrl

nl

dl

   

47

t

51

43

3

ol

nc

nr

y

 

15

T

3

23

3

or

oelpc

oc

y

y

47

W

28

43

3

or

oc

dc

 

y

2

W

23

16

3

oc

dr

dr

y

 

40

b

16

15

3

nc

dc

dl

 

y

 

When he was the A2, he made most passes from the center zone of the ice, while a great number of passes went to partner Jake Gardiner, who would make the primary pass to the eventual shooter – which was sometimes Dion with a one-timer.

Shooter

Shot Type?

A1

A2

A3

A1 Zone

A2 Zone

A3 Zone

SC?

SOG?

28

W

21

3

2

nl

dsc

dl

 

Y

43

W

28

3

51

nl

dl

dl

 

y

47

T

21

3

21

or

or

opr

   

42

W

51

3

 

dsl

dc

     

21

W

47

3

21

nc

dc

dl

 

y

43

W

51

3

51

dsl

dr

nc

y

y

3

o

51

3

47

opc

opr

opr

   

21

w

43

3

43

oc

or

opr

   

43

o

21

3

 

orrc

dl

 

y

 

3

W

43

3

 

oc

oelc

   

y

43

W

51

3

 

dsl

dr

 

y

 

43

W

51

3

 

ol

oc

 

y

y

43

W

21

3

 

oc

dc

 

y

 

19

T

56

3

51

oc

ol

or

y

y

24

W

15

3

15

or

oc

opr

y

y

21

W

43

3

 

dl

dl

     

15

W

51

3

23

dr

dc

nc

 

y

19

W

56

3

51

oc

dsc

dl

y

y

43

W

21

3

 

nr

dr

   

y

23

w

15

3

 

dr

dc

     

3

S

51

3

51

or

oc

or

   

3

O

42

3

51

opl

ol

oc

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even as the first passer (primary), Dion liked to be in the middle of the ice, especially in the offensive zone.

 

As the engage, he patrolled the outside and the wall. As a puck mover, Dion is the man in the middle. In the offensive zone, at 5v5 he still seems to like operating from the center part of the ice, which is complimentary to walking the line and firing shots from the middle, instead of at bad angles.

 

Shooter

Shot Type?

A1

A2

A3

A1 Zone

A2 Zone

A3 Zone

SC?

SOG?

19

T

3

42

 

ol

ofp

     

23

W

3

42

 

dsl

df

 

Y

Y

2

W

3

43

 

or

ofp

     

42

W

3

   

dsc

   

y

y

19

W

3

26

19

oc

opr

oelr

y

y

43

W

3

43

47

oc

opr

oc

   

19

T

3

26

 

or

opr

 

y

y

2

S

3

   

oc

     

y

43

W

3

   

nc

       

47

T

3

21

 

oc

opr

 

y

 

43

t

3

21

 

oc

opr

 

y

y

21

B

3

43

 

or

opr

 

y

y

42

W

3

   

nr

       

15

T

3

23

3

or

oelpc

oc

y

y

21

W

3

   

dc

       

15

W

3

51

 

dsc

dc

   

y

21

W

3

51

 

dsc

nl

   

y

43

W

3

   

dc

     

y

42

w

3

   

nc

     

y

47

w

3

21

 

or

oelc

   

y

43

W

3

47

51

ol

dsc

dl

   

44

W

3

   

oc

       

51

w

3

43

 

oc

opr

     

 

Partnered with Jake Gardiner (the ultimate support player) has given both players a nice bump. Gardiner gets to do what he does best, carry the puck and move the rush up ice, while Dion Phaneuf doesn’t have to take on the responsibility of advancing the play, instead he can focus on the turnover and reacquisition of the puck, as the engage component, a safer overall component. I think that this is the key with Phaneuf, limiting his puck moving forays and keeping him within a proper framework of defensive responsibility, but with proper support.

 

Can Cody Ceci replicate the partnership with Gardiner? That’s the question.

Gus Katsaros
Gus Katsaros is the Pro Scouting Coordinator with McKeen’s Hockey, publishers of industry leading scouting and fantasy guide, the McKeen’s Annual Hockey Pool Yearbook. He also contributes to popular blog MapleLeafsHotStove.com ... he can be followed on Twitter @KatsHockey