When all is said and done, if the Sabres miss out on the playoffs, injuries will be cited as one of the reasons. An injury to one of their smallest players could turn out to be one of the biggest in terms of the impact it had on the season.
Tyler Ennis, all 5 foot 9 inches of him, has been on a tear of late and his play along with that of Marcus Foligno and Drew Stafford has put some bite into what has been a fairly toothless offense on too many nights.
There were high expectations on Ennis based on his performance against Boston in the playoffs 2 years ago and his follow up last season. The 26th overall selection in the 2008 draft, Ennis finished 4th in rookie scoring with 20 goals and 49 points. The stage was set for Ennis to elevate himself into a top 2 center role, especially with the departure of Tim Connolly.
While the team got off to a good start, Ennis was ice cold with zero points in the first 6 games. An ankle injury suffered in the first period of a game back on October 22nd would then sideline him for 5 weeks and a span of 17 games.
Upon returning to the lineup, Ennis found his game with 3 goals and 5 points in 8 contests but he re-injured the ankle and missed another 5 weeks and 17 more games.
Since returning from that injury, Ennis has been pretty consistent. He has 8 goals and 19 points in 24 games and of late has been performing like a number one center, providing the spark between Foligno and Stafford.
It makes you wonder why Ennis wasn’t moved to center earlier but during his weekly show on WGR, Lindy Ruff said he liked Derek Roy and Cody Hodgson as the top 2 centers so he left Ennis on the wing. With the team desperate for offense and wins, Ruff moved Ennis back into the middle where he, Foligno and Stafford found instant chemistry. Ennis has 4 goals and 5 assists in the last 5 games and he’s a plus 9. Throw in Foligno and Stafford’s totals and that line has combined for 11 goals and 25 points with a collective plus 22.