Sabres Are In Must Win Mode. One Sabre Isn’t


Drew Stafford is earning $2.3 million in the final year of his contract and has shown flashes of brilliance, living up to his salary and stirring up conversations of $4 million plus kind of money. Coming in with an apparent laser focus, signs of maturity that had been missing, and a leaner frame, Stafford had the pessimist at the water cooler starting to change tune.

Highlights of this season include 4 hat tricks, the last of which came in a 7-6 loss to the New York Islanders Feb 13th. At that point Stafford had netted a stunning 23 goals in 36 games. The next elite goal scorer to don the charging Buffalo?

Oh how things have changed.

Stafford forgoes this open net backhand in favor of a spin-o-rama

The race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference is a dog fight. Every game is a playoff game and experienced players are expected to lead the charge and contribute offensively. Over the last 15 games, Stafford has 2 goals and 8 points with his last goal coming on Mar 5th Vs. the Flyers. Over the last 5 arguably must win games, Stafford has remained goalless and 2 points. Tim Connolly by comparison has 2 goals and 6 points over that span.

Hardly leading by example.

Over the second half of the season the numbers shake out like this. In 26 games he was dressed, Stafford contributed 12 goals and 20 points. Considering 8 of those goals came in 3 matches, that leaves a paltry 3 goals in the remaining 23 efforts in that span. If you were excited over a hot goal scoring streak with multiple goal games, you can’t avoid the inconsistency over the rest.

Scoring over all for the Buffalo Sabres is up nearly half a goal per game (.44 as of Mar 19th) in the second half of the season which bodes well for a team that must have balanced scoring to succeed. There is no time for excuses. Stafford should take note of the performance of the diminutive Nathan Gerbe who is 10-7-17 over the last 30 games.

If you think tonight’s game Vs. the Habs is a time for Stafford to right the ship, consider in the 4 games played Vs. Montreal Stafford is 1-1-2. Granted when these two teams play it’s usually very low scoring evident by the Habs Carey Price’s 1.57 goals on average the five previous games.

This is your clarion call Drew Stafford and the Buffalo Sabres. Are you listening Thomas Vanek?

***Update Sabres defeat the Habs in regulation, 2-0. Gerbe with 2 goals. Miller looked stellar.

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About bsn360

Buffalo Sabres commentary with a finger on the pulse of the Buffalo Sabre Fan. I am also a self-proclaimed momentum analyst.
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7 Responses to Sabres Are In Must Win Mode. One Sabre Isn’t

  1. Craig Monin aka C_Monin says:

    It will take much more than a few streaking players, or a couple energetic youngsters, to make it past the first round. 80% of the player will have to elevate their games to keep pace or even beat some of the “bigger” teams in the conference. Maybe the young hungry guys will provide the spark to motivate veterans to leave “it” all on the ice and make a serious run at the division title and a return to the party!

  2. Brendan says:

    Putting Vanek at the end of your piece was dumb. If you have been watching the games and not just looking at the stat sheet, you will see that he’s been the best player on the ice every single time he’s out there. He hasn’t scored, but he averages 1+ post per night and has been robbed countless other times. True the goals aren’t there, but he’s creating scoring chances galore, and those not only help keep up pressure throughout the game, but will result in goals. As for Stafford, yes he needs to score more, but his line with Ennis and Boyes for the past games has been absolutely dominant. Stafford’s job on that line is to work the corners and be physical, along with boyes, and get into scoring spaces when Ennis gets it in the open. Like Vanek, Stafford (and Boyes) are getting a lot of great chances. I would be worried if he was invisible and not getting chances, but that is not the case.

    • bsn360 says:

      I agree 100% with yout comment regarding Vanek. This article is about Stafford. Throwing in that last part about Vanek as an afterthought is simply to draw a visceral response from fans like you. Any fan that has watched the games knows it’s just a matter of time before he starts converting. Notice this wasn’t written about 2 players. Just one. Point taken on Stafford grinding, but he was invisible last night.

  3. boonies says:

    Good thoughts here…arent we glad Darcy didn’t throw a blank check at Drew back when he had that hormone surge (six goals on SIX consecutive shots, remember?) I dont think Drew has quit, or reverted to his previous flaccid persona of 4-1/2 years duration (stretch,yawn,mope,cash check; repeat) It is worse than that. I think the league has noticed his uptick in points and started checking him closely…imagine that.
    He isn’t very elusive or explosive on his own,but left alone in front he has a very good shot…so they don’t leave him alone. Dwat these wascawy coaches!!
    He may be playing himself OUT of a big contract,as this playoff run is where the rubber meets the road,reputation-wise.
    We are in need of more talent to contend seriously for the Cup,and we Don’t need another Pominville-Connolly type salary around our neck.

    • bsn360 says:

      As I watched him closely last night, I had an epiphany. I stopped watching TC so close. Thanks for the comment, feedback, and the laugh at”hormone surge.”

  4. Mary Ann says:

    Craig,

    I think one of the things that BSN was alluding to is that Stafford’s play is consistently inconsistent. His play improves when it is about him – Did you notice that his play improved as the trade deadline approached and when did it start to make a decline?

    Stafford could be the star of the team … but then there would be effort and work and expectations – I guess $2.3M isn’t so bad after all.

    • bsn360 says:

      Good point on trade deadline. Coincidence? Hmmm. The commentary in general on this post is illustrative of the team. Collectively I would suggest it points out three things. 1. We still have the ghost of the Golisano era Regier (fear Stafford would/could be signed at a premium), 2. Vanek is snake bit, and 3. This whole team needs to score and score efficiently while Miller needs to be a stud in order for this team to compete. “So you’re saying there’s still a chance?”

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