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CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY FOR VANEK

Thomas Vanek is off to the best start of his NHL career

Friday, 10.28.2011 / 3:16 PM / News
By Kevin Snow  - Sabres.com (@kwsnow)
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CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY FOR VANEK
In hockey terms, referring to Thomas Vanek as a “reliable” performer over the past six seasons would be as deadly accurate as his slapshot. Vanek has only missed 21 games due to injury since debuting in the 2005-06 campaign, and has played in 80 or more games four times. Last year he became the only player in Sabres history to lead the team in goals for five consecutive seasons. But the 27-year-old Vanek is off to the best offensive start of his career this season, and the term “consistency” is likely going to become the new buzzword for the Austrian sniper.

Vanek’s 14 points (7+7) are one more than the 13 he started the 2006-07 season with through 10 games, and place him two points behind Toronto’s Phil Kessel for the league scoring lead. With one game left to the 10-game mark, Vanek’s has a chance to match Chris Drury’s 10-game start to the 2006-07 season, and possibly surpass the 16 scored by Maxim Afinogenov to start that same season. Those 10-game totals sit second and third to the franchise record of 29 points (9+20) in 10 games set by Pat LaFontaine to open the 1992-93 season.

“Consistency is the biggest thing, even as a young guy. It’s something I still work on, to be effective every night,” explains Vanek. “Not every night you’re going to feel 100 per cent, so you need to find other ways to contribute to the team.”

Thomas Vanek (Getty Images)
The consistency Vanek has shown this season has carried over from the midway point of last year. Since December 26, Vanek’s 62 points (26+36) in 54 games are tied for fourth in the NHL with Henrik Sedin – trailing only Daniel Sedin (73), Corey Perry (64) and Martin St. Louis (63). In this time he’s only been held pointless in three consecutive games once (Feb. 25-Mar. 3), and has scored at least one point in eight of nine games this season.

Vanek credits much of this success to playing alongside Jason Pominville, who is fourth in the league in scoring with 13 points (4+9) in nine games.

“Ever since Rochester, Jason and I have never really played together. We practiced together a few times, and had some games here and there. But last year after Derek went out, we got put together and ever since then we’ve been clicking.

Adam
“That’s what you need. It’s tough in this league to do it on your own. You need a five-man pack, but on a forward line you need at least two guys that can click and I think we have that. We’ve got that chemistry, and Luke (Adam) is doing a good job for us down the middle.”

Adam calls Vanek “the best player he’s ever played with,” and says there more to his game than just goal scoring.

“He’s much more than a goal scorer; he’s probably one of the best playmakers too. Some of those plays he makes around the net -- working hard down low, getting body position. It’s just those little plays that a lot of guys can’t make, and it just seems to be on your tape every time. He’s just as good a passer as he is a shooter.”



Jochen Hecht was the lone Sabre missing from today’s practice, and Lindy Ruff said his timetable for return is still unclear at this point.

"We gave him another day off; he just wasn’t doing that well today,” Ruff explained. “We’re just trying to figure some things out. Not to go into detail, be he could be back into full go tomorrow. He’s seeing some people today, and there’s a good chance he could practice again tomorrow.”



Patrick Kaleta practiced with a full cage mask on his helmet, to protect a cut on his nose that has become infected and caused his facial swelling. Ruff said it was a precautionary measure that shouldn’t affect his playing status.

“We’re hoping with medication that would go down. Obviously it isn’t good looking, but it’s something that happens when you get cut and you’re sweating in it. It’s a surface infection. He’s not the prettiest guy right now, but he can still be effective.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82