Most of the time, people want to get the bad news out of the way so here it goes. Thomas Vanek hasn’t been scoring many goals lately. The one in Boston on Thursday snapped a 5 game drought and is just his 2nd goal in the last 13 games and the other one was an empty netter in the February 25th win over Ottawa.
The good news is Vanek has been finding other ways to contribute to the team and they’ve been able to win games without Vanek lighting the lamp. Over those 13 games where there have been a mere 2 goals, Vanek has recorded 7 assists. In the win over the Rangers that kick started this very successful road trip, Vanek didn’t make it to the score sheet but played a key role in 2 of the team’s 3 goals by getting to the front of the net, drawing the attention of a defenseman and screening goalie Henrik Lundquist. Vanek has also become more reliable in the defensive zone. In those 13 games, he has had a minus night just twice. Buffalo is 7-4-2 in that 13 game stretch.
Lindy Ruff told us this past week that when you take into account the playmaking inside the zone and defensive responsibilities, Vanek’s game is as close to a good all around game as he’s seen from the Austrian native. But as we know, Vanek is paid a hefty sum of money, in large part, to score goals. In games where he has recorded a goal, the Sabres are 15-3-2. He’s led the team in goals 4 straight years, the 1st Sabres to accomplish that in franchise history although that streak is in jeopardy thanks to a breakout season from Drew Stafford. With the goal in Boston, Vanek is now 4 shy of 200 for his career.