SEASON REWIND: THOMAS VANEK
Wednesday, 05.04.2011 / 3:21 PM / Features
By Rob Crean - Web Content Coordinator
Leader Across the Board:
Vanek led the Sabres in goals (32), assists (41) and points (73) this season, marking just the 10th time in franchise history that a player has held or shared the team-lead in all three categories at the end of a season. Vanek’s 73 points ranked tied for 15th in the NHL while his 32 goals were tied for 14th. In addition to his team-leading numbers, Vanek also took on a leadership role within the dressing room. Prior to the Feb. 23 game against Atlanta, Vanek was awarded an “A” and served as one of Buffalo’s alternate captains for the duration of the season.
|Photo: Bill Wippert|
Vanek reached the 25-goal plateau for the sixth straight season, giving him 25 or more goals in each year of his NHL career. He became one of just eight players to score at least 25 goals in each of the six seasons following the lockout, joining Calgary’s Jarome Iginla, New Jersey’s Ilya Kovalchuk, Columbus’ Rick Nash, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, Carolina’s Eric Staal, Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis and San Jose’s Dany Heatley.
Throughout the season, Vanek displayed a knack for coming up big in overtime and shootouts. In Buffalo’s 10 overtime wins, Vanek played a role in five of the goals. He scored two OT goals, assisted on two others and created a turnover that led directly to another by Tyler Myers, but was not credited with a point. He also scored on five of his six shootout attempts. His 83.3% success rate in the shootout was the second-highest percentage in the NHL among players with more than three attempts on the season.
A Helping Hand:
For the first time in his career, Vanek recorded more assists than goals during a season. His 41 helpers tied the career-high he set in 2006-07 when the Sabres led the NHL in goals. With Derek Roy suffering a regular season-ending injury 35 games in, Vanek carried the offensive load the rest of the way, recording 48 points (19+29) over the next 45 games. The Sabres were 19-4-3 when Vanek scored, and 18-2-1 when he recorded two or more points.
BY THE NUMBERS...
On April 2 at Washington, Vanek scored his 200th career goal, becoming just the 11th player in club history to reach the milestone. He finished the season just eight goals behind Alexander Mogilny for 10th place on the Sabres’ all-time list.
Vanek was one of just seven players in the NHL this season to lead his team in goals, assists and points. He joined Carolina’s Eric Staal, Colorado’s Matt Duchene, Columbus’ Rick Nash, the NY Rangers’ Brandon Dubinsky, Ottawa’s Jason Spezza and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin as the only players to do so this year.
Vanek led the Sabres with five playoff goals this season, four of which came on the power play.
Vanek came through when it mattered, scoring 15 of his goals either with the game tied or the Sabres trailing by one. He also scored more goals in the 3rd period (11) than any other period and notched five game-winning goals.
Here's a look at two of Vanek's signature goals from the 2010-11 campaign - his overtime game-winners against Washington on Nov. 13 and versus Philadelphia on Apr. 8: