Vanek leads the league in points and was named the 3rd star for the month of January (OTT goalie Craig Anderson, SJS forward Patrick Marleau.) In addition to his league leading 15 points he's second in goals with 6 (Marleau, 9) and his nine assists are good for second (Joe Thorton, SJS, 11.)
Pominville is tied for fourth in the league in points (12) and tied for third in goals (5.) Center Hodgson is off to a real good start and is doing for Vanek and Pominville what former center, Derek Roy could not--stay out of the way, let those two work some Sedin's-type magic and play off of what they do.
It's nothing new for Vanek and Pominville to be coming out of the gate strong while carrying a center along with them. Last season after the opening month Vanek had 15 points, Pominville had 14 and center Luke Adam had nine. Adam, unfortunately, couldn't sustain his pace. Let's hope Hodgson can.
The rest of the team needs too catch up, though.
The only player playing a solid game and producing is center Tyler Ennis. After that it's a mixed bag.
To say that the top line is carrying the team is an understatement, but various players are at varying degrees of game-readiness.
The defense is still a mess. Those playing a simpler game--Alexander Sulzer, Mike Weber and Robyn Regehr--are pretty solid out of the gate while the "offensive-minded" defenseman--Tyler Myers, Andrej Sekera, Jordan Leopold and Christian Ehrhoff--are taking a while to get up to speed.
Secondary scoring needs to come very soon as the season is only 48 games. Although Vanek and Pominville can put up strong numbers, they shouldn't be looked at to continue to produce at this pace. But, you never know,with the focus and chemistry they have, it wouldn't be surprising to see them remain hot.
In goal, Ryan Miller's doing his thing. A clunker vs. Toronto and a below average performance in Washington gave everyone cause for concern, but he had a stellar game last night in Boston and shows that when he's focused, he can get into an opponents head.
Can giving up four goals constitute "stealing a game?" The best case for the truth in that statement was last night. Miller held the fort while being under constant siege and came up with some remarkable saves. That kept the team within striking distance until Vanek, he of the hat trick and a 5-point night, decided to take over the game.
The Sabres are presently 7th in the league in goals for but 24th in goals against. Head coach Lindy Ruff would love to roll at least three lines, but until Ville Leino comes back from injury he has his top line and Ennis playing well. Unsteady contributions from Steve Ott, Marcus Foligno and Drew Stafford and a mish-mash of bottom-six forwards who, on some nights. look like borderline NHL'ers, are making things difficult at both ends of the ice.
Things should fall into place during February as every player in the league will be settling into their spots. But it was a fantastic first month for the Vanek, Pominville, Hodgson line and lets hope that they can continue producing while the rest of the team plays catch-up.
- January--Thomas Vanek-15; Jason Pominville-12; Cody Hodgson-6
- January--Vanek-6; Pominville-5; Hodgson-4
- January--Vanek-3; Pominville, Steve Ott, Tyler Myers-1
- January--Vanek, 9; Pominville-7; Christian Ehrhoff-5
- January--Vanek, Pominville-3; Hodgson, Tyler Ennis, Ehrhoff-2
- January--Vanek, Pominville-3; Drew Stafford, Ehrhoff-2
- January--Vanek +4; Alexander Sulzer, Mike Weber +3
- January--Stafford, Jordan Leopold -4; Myers, Mikhail Grigorenko -3
Three Stars (1st=5 points, 2nd=3 points, 3rd=1 point)
- January--Vanek (10); Ryan Miller (7); Pominville (6)
Goalies (year to date):
- January--3-2-1; .920 sv % (20th); 2.64 gaa (28th); 0 shutouts
- January--0-1-0; 856 sv % (49th); 5.00 gaa (T-56th), 0 shutouts