Buffalo Sabres: Will Tage Thompson’s production pick up now that he’s shed the brace?

Buffalo Sabres star center Tage Thompson has had a tough time getting anything going this season, but a stroke of bad luck has also haunted him.

Dec 30, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Buffalo Sabres right wing Tage Thompson (72) plays the puck
Dec 30, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Tage Thompson (72) plays the puck / Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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As in 2022-23, Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson limped off to a slow start, something that may be expected in the upcoming seasons. Bad luck haunted him in November when a puck smashed into his wrist, and he ended up missing a few weeks. 

Tage returned sooner than expected, necessitating him to wear a protective brace on his wrist between December 5th and December 16th to keep himself from causing further damage to his wrist. Now that he’s had time to go without the brace for a couple of weeks, Tage might just start getting hot during a time when the Blue and Gold need him the most. 

Buffalo has done nothing but struggle this year, perhaps dealing its fan base its most notorious dose of fools gold, but there are still plenty of games remaining to fix this thing. Tage will be an integral part of it, so the question is: Will we see vintage Tage Thompson?

Will Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson return to form?

Tage returned on December 5th vs. the Detroit Red Wings after he missed roughly three weeks. He also said the following regarding the length of time he was forced to wear a brace, so we can project that he got rid of it following the December 16th loss to the Arizona Coyotes.

"“I think the first seven games back I played with a brace on my hand, so I couldn’t feel the puck and didn’t feel like myself. Now that the brace is off, I’m starting to feel back to normal. Especially getting that pace and timing back has been good.”"

Tage Thompson

Source: Sabres' Tage Thompson finally 'back to normal' after shedding bothersome brace by Lance Lysowski, Buffalo News

During those seven games, Tage scored three points and one goal, all in his first three games back. However, he also struggled through a four-game streak without a point. If we go by what he said in the above quote, he first ditched the brace in the Buffalo Sabres embarrassing 9-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on December 19th. 

Between the 19th and New Year’s Eve, however, Tage scored six points and three goals in that time. What’s more is the fact that between the fifth and December 16th, Tage converted just one of 22 shots on goal, or a shooting percentage of 4.5. But from the 19th and onward, he’s three for 23, good for a decent shooting percentage of 13.0. 

So is Tage a better player without the brace? Absolutely, and now that he’s seemingly gotten reacclimated to playing without it - evidenced further by his remarkable shift in one of the Sabres few highlights against the Ottawa Senators. That said, expect vintage Tage if he can stay healthy. 

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(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)