BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Thomas Vanek #26 of the Buffalo Sabres controls the puck near the side boards against the Carolina Hurricanes during their NHL game on November 28, 2009 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York. The Sabres defeated the Hurricanes 5-1. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
It really didn’t take the start to this season by Thomas Vanek for some knuckleheads out there finally to come to the realization that the guy can be pretty good at hockey, did it? Were these the last holdouts, the diehards, who still hold it against Vanek that his agent played the sitch to perfection in July 2007? Whatever. The Sabres now have 9 points this year, and he is responsible for what – 7 of them??
We’ve seen Vanek get hot in the past, but this is a whole other level were watching. Stupid good. Enough to keep the schmoes off his oft cross-checked back when he cools off? Puh-leeze. This is Buffalo. We still boo Brian Campbell. So trust me, the “Lazy Vanek” garbage will start popping up again, even if just from the trolls. Until then, let’s just enjoy the (to this point) one true bright spot to a rough open 3 weeks to the Sabres season.
How bright? Well, when was the last time you could seriously name a Sabre that wasn’t Dominik Hasek to be a candidate for the Hart Trophy at ANY POINT of a given season, and not be laughed out of the room/office/bingo hall? And when was the last time any Sabre lead the league in Goals, Assists, and Points AT THE SAME TIME?? (No, really, has that ever happened before February 7th, 2013? And not just after the first game of the season, either.) The team may be built around Ryan Miller, but its best player wears #26.
Can we just talk about the Canadiens game Thursday night? God forgive me for going down this road, but had Vanek gotten the “bounces” (I just threw up in my mouth a little), he would already been sitting on a 1 or 2 goal game headed into the final 20 minutes. And he was taking a pounding in front of the Habs’ net. Next person you hear that suggests that Thomas Vanek isn’t a tough player needs to be straight up punched in the neck. That nonsense hasn’t been true for a long time. So perhaps some justice that his stick somehow found the puck in that schmozzle under Peter Budaj with 1.9 seconds left. And was there any doubt he was beating Budaj in the shootout?
So I guess if you were a “glass half-empty” kind of guy (none of those around here at Buffalo Wins, no sir-ree), you‘re waiting for the ride to end and Vanek to have a 10 game goalless streak. Probably starting Saturday against the Islanders.
Or….maybe Drew Stafford (who I haven’t hated the last couple of games – low standard) can get off his ass a maybe chip in goal sometime before Lent. Or…perhaps the defense can go a period without appearing to be coached by Dave Wannstedt.
Anything that makes them look something other than lucky to have 4 wins right now. The moments have been too few and far between when the Sabres have been rolling good and have Thomas Vanek running this hot a streak. Anytime, fellas. Anytime.