The New Drew Stafford?
Greetings TRW fans,
I’m really glad to be a part of the family here and although this is my first post, I’m sure it wont be my last. I’ve been writing for sports websites now for three years mainly at (bylinesports.com) and as a journalist I believe in the Atlanta Braves, Tim Tebow and, of course, the Buffalo Sabres!
The New Drew Stafford?
While the Sabres post season hopes are dim but not out of the question, everyone can take solace in the outstanding play recently of Drew Stafford. I had never been a fan of the former North Dakota Fighting’ Sioux but it looks as though he has starting to settle into his role.
With Buffalo five points out of the 8th and final playoff spot, they can have some comfort knowing they do have two games in hand on the Carolina Hurricane. But if they want to make a late push in the second half of the season I believe Drew Stafford HAS TO continue to step up in big games down the stretch.
Look coming out of the pre-season where the Sabres went 4-2, the player, coaches and press were all talking about Derek Roy. Yet when asked who was the best playing in camp, Lindy Ruff said Drew Stafford. Stafford played well in the six games and found the back of the net fairly regularly… I didn’t think much of it. Still Ruff went on and talked about his progression over camp and said he was going to have to be a big player this year if the Sabres wanted to make some noise.
In 33 games this season the 5th year Sabre has 17 goals and 27 points, including two memorable hat tricks. To put that into perspective, Stafford has two more points than Niedermayer and Grier combined and they have played 60 more games. I know this is all hypothetical but I’m just saying 17 goals in 33 games is technically on pace to score 42 goals over an 82 game season… just saying. In the mean time, with the 60 extra games, Grier and Niedermayer have COMBINED for three goals total…all season… it amazes me how they are still on an NHL team. They would get cut from a travel hockey team… but I’ll save that for another post.
Back to the matter at hand… Drew Stafford.
Maybe his pre-season wasn’t a fluke? He’s already been a 20 goal scorer in his career back in 08-09 but he’s never stood out enough, in my eyes, to really grab attention away from Vanek and Roy with his play. My thoughts are slowly changing on that every time I’ve seen him skate this year. He’s shown me something this year that a lot of Sabres haven’t shown me… the ability to finish. He’s no Hecth or Connelly (even Pominville I feel misses some grade A chances at times). Stafford has had the killer instinct this year to find the back of the net. That’s what separates the Crobsy’s, Stamkos’s and Kessler’s this year from the rest of the pack.
Another thing to go along with his hands and scoring ability is this guys size. He is no Gerbe, Ennis or Roy. He is listed at 6’2” 214 but after sitting along the glass earlier in the year he looks bigger than that. I know the injury bug has bitten him this year (along with the rest of the team) but he hasn’t had a huge history of being on the shelf, as he has averaged 71 games over the last three seasons.
I’m not saying he is as good as Vanek or Roy, but not everyone comes into the league and tears it up right away like Crosby, Ovechkin or Stamkos. Some guys take a few years to adjust and find their role on their team. The Sabres have shown patience with Stafford and this season, when healthy, has been arguably the most dangerous and most productive.
The Sabres upcoming schedule is not the most challenging in the world but if they want to make a run a few things need to happen and a lot of that has to do with remaining healthy. At times, Buffalo’s power play has looked flawless and Stafford is second on the team with seven power play goals. I tell people all the time, that when a guy like Patrick Kaleta is in the line up the Sabres are a different team. This year Drew Stafford has been that catalyst.
In Drew Stafford I trust….