Austrian homecoming did wonders for Sabres' Vanek

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 8, 2013 at 7:28 pm •  Published: February 8, 2013
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Ruff has plenty to be concerned about, including resurfacing questions about his job security. The one worry he doesn't have is the production he's getting out of Vanek.

"He's had a history of running some hot streaks, and I think this is the best streak he's ever put together," Ruff said. "I think any time you get that confidence, get off to that great of a start, I think he's fed off it."

Vanek opened the season with a career-best five-point game in a 5-2 win over Philadelphia, and has at least a point in nine of the 10 games he's played.

Whether it's on power plays or breakaways, from his knees or during shootouts, Vanek has scored in nearly every situation this season playing on a line rounded out by Jason Pominville and center Cody Hodgson.

There was the goal Vanek scored to cap his eighth career hat trick in a 7-4 win over Boston on Jan. 31. Driving in on the Bruins net on a 2-on-0 break, Vanek hit the brakes at the top of the crease and waited for Tuukka Rask to commit before shoveling the puck in over the fallen goalie to make it 6-4.

And then there were Vanek's two goals against Montreal. After scoring on a power-play with 12:03 left to cut the Canadiens lead to 4-3, he capped a scramble in front by diving in head first to poke a loose puck through goalie Peter Budaj's legs to force overtime.

As if that wasn't enough, Vanek scored one of Buffalo's two shootout goals to clinch the win.

"It's awesome to watch. He's been finding a way. He's been magical," forward Steve Ott said. "He wants to win in this dressing room, and he's proven it to all of us."

Vanek is playing with more patience. That's something he also got out of playing on the much larger ice surfaces in Austria, where the extra space allowed him to be more creative.

"By playing the game over there, I kind of got my hands back, my vision," Vanek said. "I think patience comes with confidence and, obviously, I'm feeling pretty good about my game."

Already more than a third of the way to matching the 61 points he had last season, Vanek is maintaining a day-at-a-time approach.

"I know it's a good streak that I'm on, but I don't look at it like a hot streak," Vanek said. "It might be over tomorrow or the next day. But even if it is, there's a lot more games coming after that."



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