With friends like this, who needs ememies?
Just in case you didn’t notice Ottawa Senators defenceman Dion Phaneuf hitting Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel over and over again, their off-ice friendship has been put on hold during the length of the Eastern Conference final. The two have also been jawing back and forth.
“It’s just that he’s on that team, I’m on this team, and we’re doing everything possible that we can for our teams,” Phaneuf said before the puck dropped for Game 4 Friday. “I’m proud to be on this team and there is nothing personal. It’s just about competing for your ice, competing against a skilled guy. He’s one of their top skilled guys, you’ve got to play him hard and play them honest. He’s going to compete, as am I.”
Phaneuf has been all business, with 34 hits in 15 playoff games. He knocked Bryan Rust out of Game 2, and possibly the series, with a crushing open ice hit.
“I’m like everyone else in our room is,” he said. “We’re here to compete. We’re here to play and it’s about trying to outcompete the guy on the other side.”
While fellow defenceman Mark Borowiecki is inching towards a return from his lower body injury, Phaneuf acknowledges he’s trying to be a tad more physical with him out of the lineup.
“He plays on the edge and he’s a tough guy to play against,” he said. “You don’t try and replace him, but you do have to up your physical style of play a bit.”
Fellow Senators defencemen Fredrik Claesson, who played his sixth straight game Friday, says he is also trying to be more physical.
“Boro has been playing for most of the year,” said Claesson. “I know what role he plays. I think I can take that into my style a little bit.”
Ottawa’s Dion Phaneuf fights for the puck with PIttsburgh’s Phil Kessel in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final. The former teammates have put their off-ice friendship on hold while battling for a spot in the Stanley Cup final.