Tage Thompson must bring his A-Game if the Buffalo Sabres plan on winning vs. Ottawa

Lately, the Buffalo Sabres goathead jerseys haven’t been bringing the same kind of luck they brought in the recent past, so they must turn to a proven playmaker.

Jan 6, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Buffalo Sabres right wing Tage Thompson (72) warms up
Jan 6, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Tage Thompson (72) warms up / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Just when you thought Tage Thompson was turning back into the star-caliber player we all knew and cheered for, he recently struggled through arguably his worst performance over the last two seasons. To say he was awful during Tuesday night’s loss to the Seattle Kraken is an understatement; Tage was so bad that he ended up dropping down a line in favor of Casey Mittelstadt. And he parlayed the demotion into 14:36 of total ice time and zero shots attempted.

Overall, it was a lazy outing and the only remote positive coming out of it is the fact Tage won eight of his 12 faceoff attempts, or 66.7 percent. If the Sabres want to beat the Ottawa Senators tonight and if they want to claw their way into contention, Tage cannot toil through another game like this for the rest of the year. 

The good news, however, is that Tage has played the Senators well this season, logging four points, three goals, and an assist, as Jourdon LaBarber of Sabres.com kindly reminded us. That may foreshadow a bounce back performance, and it’s badly needed, especially since Jeff Skinner recently sustained an upper-body injury

Tage Thompson is one of a few players who must fuel the Buffalo Sabres

Tage, however, is just one player, and the Blue and Gold must also turn to those who have been enjoying epic performances lately, like Alex Tuch and Casey Mittelstadt. Both forwards were two of very few bright spots in Tuesday’s loss, and it also made you wonder if the latter is a better long-term fit on the top line as opposed to the inconsistent Tage given his steady play over the past 13 months.

However, considering Tage’s recent outings against Ottawa this season, tonight is his chance to prove his performance on Tuesday was nothing more than an outlier, but he still hasn’t been the same player all season. In 31 games this year, Tage has just 25 points, putting him on pace for just 58 points, or 0.8 points per game. 

Sure, a wrist injury slowed him, and Tage has given us some encouraging outings occasionally, but the inconsistency remains. Tonight, he must bring the best version of himself to the ice to help the Buffalo Sabres get back into the win column and inch one step closer to saving their season.

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(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)