Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Vanek Comes Up Big in Sabres Home Opener

The Buffalo Sabres kicked off their 2013 season with a 5-2 win at home against their rivals the Philadelphia Flyers and a major reason they won was the play of Thomas Vanek. After a rocky 2011-2012 which saw Vanek’s production drop to 26 goals, he’s off to a quick start for 2013.

Skating on the top line with captain Jason Pominville and Cody Hodgson, there’s no question Vanek is one of the Sabres best offencive threats- when he’s

on his game and scoring goals the team is winning, when he’s struggling the team struggles as well. If the Buffalo Sabres are to snag a spot in the top 8 in the Eastern Conference they need Vanek to re-find his scoring touch- and on Sunday afternoon he looked like the elite scorer everyone expects him to be.

Vanek netted 2 goals including a beautiful breakaway goal that completely fooled Ilya Bryzgalovand in addition to his 2 goals also added 3 assists. Like elite

players, Vanek was able to elevate- not only his own game- but also the game of his teammates, helping to power his team to a big win. Although Vanek ended the game on a high note with 5 points- to start off the game he didn’t look good at all. He looked slow and was responsible for a couple Flyers goals by not covering his man. I even tweeted asking if Vanek had gotten hurt or something- as he wasn’t up to speed at all. Even on his breakaway goal he was a little slow, hopefully we can just chalk it up as lockout rust.There were a lot of positives from the way Vanek played and if he continues his strong play the biggest beneficiary will be Pominville. The two have been together since 2004-2005 when they played for the Rochester Americans, they have a built a strong chemistry and friendship and push each other to be better every year. With both star players producing, the Sabres will win more games than they lose and will make the playoffs.

After a less productive year last year Vanek is looking to rebound and although it’s still early everything points to the fact Thomas Vanek will be one of the top scorers in the league; With more games his speed and conditioning will improve and with his deadly shot he’ll be a serious scoring threat for goalies. If you’re playing fantasy hockey, it would be a good idea to try and get your hands on the first line winger who could score close to 25 goals this season and finish in the top 10 of scoring.

While it may be a bold prediction I think Vanek is ready to have a breakout season and putting up 25 goals in this shortened season shouldn’t be a problem for him, especially as he’s always been fairly healthy and doesn’t miss a lot of games.

 

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