Buffalo Sabres: Will Connor Clifton keep up his epic resurgence efforts?

Buffalo Sabres blueliner Connor Clifton has enjoyed an epic few weeks, so the burning question is if he can keep up his current pace.

Buffalo Sabres v Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres v Boston Bruins / Winslow Townson/GettyImages
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Early in the Buffalo Sabres eventual 9-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Connor Clifton logged a helper for a Jordan Greenway goal that opened the scoring. It was the first of two points for Clifton, who later provided a secondary helper on Jack Quinn’s first goal of the season. 

The performance gave Clifton his sixth and seventh points in the last eight games, ranking him fourth in the league among defensemen in points since December 7th. He’s also the top defenseman in the league in points who has averaged under 20 minutes of average total ice time in that span. 

Clifton is also sitting at a plus-8 since the seventh, and since then, he’s the second-ranked defenseman in the league in assists per 60 minutes of ice time at even strength with 3.801. Through all this, he’s still managed a physical style of play, logging 15 hits and 11 blocked shots, so now the question is: Will Connor Clifton keep this up?

Buffalo Sabres defenseman has a good chance to keep trending north

Connor Clifton disappointed early, and it seemed as though he was freefalling after his two-game suspension for his hit on Nico Hischier in the Sabres 5-4 loss to the New Jersey Devils on October 27th. He looked like a wasted signing, but Clifton, who does have familiarity with head coach Don Granato, should keep seeing his play improve.

We’ve seen it happen time and again with Granato at the helm, where a player comes in, struggles through as many bad games as they enjoy good games, then eventually gets it together. Jordan Greenway is the latest example of a player who struggled early and ended up becoming a force in the City of Good Neighbors. 

We can tell the Buffalo Sabres aren’t the same team when Greenway is banged up, which has happened on more than one occasion this year. It shows that, thanks to patience and discipline, head coach Don Granato will find a way to get the best out of his players, and that also appears to be the case for Clifton. 

Overall, Clifton had just two points in his first 23 games of the year, so his production with the puck lately has been night and day. With 35 blocked shots, he’s once again invading shooting lanes, and with 70 hits, Clifton’s physical presence is on full display. It will be interesting to see what his final statistical tally looks like if and when he keeps up his current play. 

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(Statistics provided by QuantHockey and Hockey-Reference)