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Second half a mystery to Vanek

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Old
04-08-2012, 02:43 PM
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Sabretip
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Second half a mystery to Vanek

I hesitated to post this because it will no doubt inspire Vanek-bashing by some - but hopefully some objectivity will prevail:

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BOSTON — Thomas Vanek is at a loss. He just can't explain how a season that started so well for him ended so poorly.

Through the opening 40 games, the Sabres' winger was a goal-scoring, point-producing machine. He put up 19 goals and 40 points to rank near the top of the NHL. The longest he went without reaching the score sheet was two games.

The season started heading south Jan. 7. In the final 38 games of the season, Vanek scored just seven times and recorded 21 points, including two assists in Saturday's 4-3 shootout loss in Boston. He had skids of seven, four and three games without a point.

"I don't know [what happened]," Vanek said. "I really don't know. Obviously, the team went into a little funk, and I needed to be one of the guys to keep going and be a leader. I got trapped right in it."

The prolonged slump has ended Vanek's reign as Buffalo's perennial goal-scoring leader. After leading the team for five straight seasons, he finished second to captain Jason Pominville this year. Vanek scored 26 times, the second-lowest total of his career, ahead of only the 25 he notched as a rookie in 2005-06.

"You look back at some stretches where we could have been better, myself included," he said. "We could have made a difference and got some points and not be in the position we are."

Injuries no doubt hampered Vanek's game. He took three huge hits this season: Toronto's Dion Phaneuf popped him Jan. 10; Montreal's Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty sandwiched him Jan. 31; and Boston's Johnny Boychuk caught Vanek with his head down March 8. Vanek missed three games because of the Montreal hit and one after the Boychuk blast.

"Just little things," Vanek said of injuries. "Nothing major to really sit out. I did sit out a little bit with the chest back then, but just little things, nothing to excuse myself of."
http://www.buffalonews.com/sports/sa...icle801025.ece

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04-08-2012, 02:45 PM
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Gerbe42
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sooooo he was not playing injured ?

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04-08-2012, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Gerbe42 View Post
sooooo he was not playing injured ?
If nothing else, Vanek has never been one to promote excuses or deflect blame from himself - his downplaying what injuries he fought through seems nothing more than the same mindset where he won't let them justify his downard spiral in the 2nd half. However, it was clear, from the CBC broadcasters' accounts last weekend (especially by Craig Simpson, who played in the same high-traffic areas and took similar poundings in front of the net / slot) and several reports in recent weeks by WGR and TBN that Vanek was not skating with the same mobility of range of motion, as if partially constrained from a shoulder and/or leg ailment, like he had at the start of the year.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the kind of hits he took in those 3 cited incidents, along with the countless cross-checks to his back and hacking at the legs/arms he absorbs in front of the net, took a toll on him and slowed him down IMO.

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04-08-2012, 02:53 PM
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I'm assuming he was dinged up simply from the way he was playing. He looked slow and physically week, which was day and night compared to how he looked early this year.

Still, he was Boyes-esque down the stretch, and you can't have that from what should be your top player. He better get it together over the offseason.

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04-08-2012, 02:58 PM
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He's going to have a very short career if he doesn't find some way to minimize his injuries.

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04-08-2012, 03:00 PM
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I read two things from this.

1) He's claiming the injuries didn't effect his game enough to make an excuse out of them, which to me sounds like trying to not blame his problems on something and trying to shoulder the load. It sounds like the kind of response you'd see out of someone trying to be a leader and not blaming his faults on something. That said, I think whatever little injuries he was working through did effect his game. Whether or not his game should've been effected that much by them is another question, but I have little doubt they were a factor.

2) Him getting "sucked in" to the funk just shows he's a complimentary piece to a team and not a lead figure. Someone who's taking control of a team will rise above the rest of the team sulking, see: Pominville, Jason. Vanek going down with the ship just shows he's another player who needs someone to lead him.

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04-08-2012, 03:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myllz View Post
I read two things from this.

1) He's claiming the injuries didn't effect his game enough to make an excuse out of them, which to me sounds like trying to not blame his problems on something and trying to shoulder the load. It sounds like the kind of response you'd see out of someone trying to be a leader and not blaming his faults on something. That said, I think whatever little injuries he was working through did effect his game. Whether or not his game should've been effected that much by them is another question, but I have little doubt they were a factor.
Agreed - leaders don't make excuses and will always want to persevere no matter how slim the odds or tough the circumstances may be. I certainly interpret Vanek in that category.

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Originally Posted by Myllz View Post
2) Him getting "sucked in" to the funk just shows he's a complimentary piece to a team and not a lead figure. Someone who's taking control of a team will rise above the rest of the team sulking, see: Pominville, Jason. Vanek going down with the ship just shows he's another player who needs someone to lead him.
I think that's a little off-base - for starters, if we concede as you did in the paragraph above that injuries played a role in Vanek's reduced production, you have to acknowledge that Pominville's steady production benefited from him not having any injuries and not playing in nearly as many high-traffic areas as Vanek did.

There's also merit in arguing that, by playing through his injuries and "toughing it out" (even if the results weren't there) is one way of showing commitment and leadership that can inpsire teammates to do the same. Vanek could have probably taken the Connolly approach, where every slight hurt or cramp was cause to sit a game out for "precaution".

Thinking that Vanek wasn't able to inspire his teammates to better results because of his reduced production seems a bit flawed - especially when, despite his better stats, Pominville didn't make a difference in the rest of the team's play either.

It's the adage of "leading a horse to water but not being able to make him drink" that I think fits more appropriately - regardless of whether one considers Vanek and/or Pominville leaders, there are other players on the roster that didn't seem able or willing to compete and elevate their own play. Even Mark Messier wouldn't have been able to get some of the soloists on the roster to dig in and commit when they clearly were underachieving (and I put Roy, Stafford and Leino at the top of that group).

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04-08-2012, 03:28 PM
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I think he gets wayyyy too much heat for leading our team in goals the past 5 years....lol..

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04-08-2012, 03:34 PM
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He wasn't fully healthy and he's too hard on himself when he's slumping. Mystery solved.

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04-08-2012, 03:44 PM
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The Sabres fowards are to small and weak. End of story. I really don't know what else I see in this team that is wrong. When watching other teams elite players compared to ours in the offensive zone. It shows more then anything that we do not have strong physical players to take us to lord stanley cup. To go through all them playoff games.
If one of our so called elite guys gets injured. It's over. I want to see the Sabres being a feared team. Until that happens the same **** will continue. Mediocrity.
I just hope we can trade for a center and get some beasts in the blue and gold uni. next yr. I'm so sick of Sabres being the little team out there. Any suggestions for next yr.? Like who would be a beast for us and take no **** from any player in the league? Who we should draft in round 1? Is Armia going to be a player we can count on not getting injured? He looks like he can gain some weight and can be a beast > Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight 187 lb (85 kg; 13 st 5 lb) . Just looking for some suggestions on how to make the Sabres be a team that can score, check, fight, have finesse and be feared.


Happy Easter every one. Hopefully we are a team not to mess with next yr.

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04-08-2012, 06:47 PM
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04-08-2012, 07:03 PM
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i continue to roll my eyes at ruff's handling of vanek... we see the same thing year after year... he breaks down. most likely because he takes a huge beating in front of the net.

just like ruff's handling of miller/goaltenders...

just because you CAN ride them, doesn't mean you should.

vanek has a great slapper that he almost never gets to unleash on the power play...why? not only is it a dangerous weapon in those situations, but you can give your 7 million dollar goal scorer a reprieve from the daily beatings he takes.

im ready to move on from vanek's one dimensional game... trade him if you can... but that doesn't change the fact that ruff is a bumbling idiot of a coach... ruff may have been a sound Xs and Ox coach at one time, but he's always been a ****ing imbecile when it comes to the players.

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04-08-2012, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jame View Post
i continue to roll my eyes at ruff's handling of vanek... we see the same thing year after year... he breaks down. most likely because he takes a huge beating in front of the net.

just like ruff's handling of miller/goaltenders...

just because you CAN ride them, doesn't mean you should.

vanek has a great slapper that he almost never gets to unleash on the power play...why? not only is it a dangerous weapon in those situations, but you can give your 7 million dollar goal scorer a reprieve from the daily beatings he takes.

im ready to move on from vanek's one dimensional game... trade him if you can... but that doesn't change the fact that ruff is a bumbling idiot of a coach... ruff may have been a sound Xs and Ox coach at one time, but he's always been a ****ing imbecile when it comes to the players.
You're trying too hard with this one. You might utilize Vanek differently if you were the coach, but you can't seriously blame Ruff for Vanek's ridiculous slump, for taking 3 hard hits, or for being one-dimensional. You just lost a point on the credibility meter.

EDIT: plus, I thought the knock on Ruff was that he didn't give Vanek enough minutes.

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04-08-2012, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by SabresBillsBuffalo View Post
I think he gets wayyyy too much heat for leading our team in goals the past 5 years....lol..
If you're okay with his mediocre point totals year after year even though he leads our team in goals for 7.1 million dollars a year, then I guess he does get too much crap.

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04-08-2012, 07:41 PM
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I personally would use Vanek in more of a Stamkos way on the PP. Fact is he always gets niggling injuries most of which are from beatings in front of the net. If playing him away from the front a bit shields him a bit, so be it. Who is the next best in front of the net? Stafford?

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04-08-2012, 08:00 PM
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it's a mystery to me, too, tom!

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04-08-2012, 08:18 PM
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I hope younger guys step up in the locker room next season and change what seems from the outside looking in as a room that is way too uptight. Perhaps such a change would help stop Vanek from being hard on himself all of the time, it seems like that is a major cause of his slumps along with the massive physical abuse he takes over the course of a season.

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04-08-2012, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by htsportplaya View Post
I'm assuming he was dinged up simply from the way he was playing. He looked slow and physically week, which was day and night compared to how he looked early this year.

Still, he was Boyes-esque down the stretch, and you can't have that from what should be your top player. He better get it together over the offseason.
You mean the stretch where he had 9 pts in 9 games as the season ended playing with a young new center and a fourth liner. Ya that sounds real terrible.

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04-08-2012, 08:30 PM
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Only way a coach can last this long is by having a team of mental softies. Think about it.

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04-08-2012, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by dire wolf View Post
You're trying too hard with this one. You might utilize Vanek differently if you were the coach, but you can't seriously blame Ruff for Vanek's ridiculous slump, for taking 3 hard hits, or for being one-dimensional. You just lost a point on the credibility meter.

EDIT: plus, I thought the knock on Ruff was that he didn't give Vanek enough minutes.
Quality minutes have nothing to do with Jame' point. He is saying the problem is putting your best offensive player who has a tremendous shot in front of the net so that Chara can break his neck, just because he is good at tipping shots. Good coaching would be to protect such a player from that situation, especially since this team has no one to scare off the extra attention that Vanek gets. Putting a Vanek elsewhere on the pp would be very interesting with his shot and passing ability. Taking the cheap cross checks game after game leads to more injuries when you do take the big hits.

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04-08-2012, 08:54 PM
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Foligno can take that crease position on the PP from now on, and let Vanek fire away from the half-wall.

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04-08-2012, 11:13 PM
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Interesting way for Tom to put himself in the path of criticism. Lets hope he is able to (again) get himself healthy and rebuilt for next year. The last half of last season and the first half of this season were very good. Problem is, it isn't all of one season...

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04-09-2012, 12:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jame View Post
i continue to roll my eyes at ruff's handling of vanek... we see the same thing year after year... he breaks down. most likely because he takes a huge beating in front of the net.

just like ruff's handling of miller/goaltenders...

just because you CAN ride them, doesn't mean you should.

vanek has a great slapper that he almost never gets to unleash on the power play...why? not only is it a dangerous weapon in those situations, but you can give your 7 million dollar goal scorer a reprieve from the daily beatings he takes.

im ready to move on from vanek's one dimensional game... trade him if you can... but that doesn't change the fact that ruff is a bumbling idiot of a coach... ruff may have been a sound Xs and Ox coach at one time, but he's always been a ****ing imbecile when it comes to the players.
Really agree with that first and 2nd paragraph, but not sure I wanna see vanek leave quite yet, would rather have ruff go first

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04-09-2012, 01:51 AM
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If you're okay with his mediocre point totals year after year even though he leads our team in goals for 7.1 million dollars a year, then I guess he does get too much crap.
70+ last year and having 21 more points than the closest person? Mediocre for a team that never has high point totals in terms of individuals? you're blind. This team since Briere and Drury left besides Roy's 81 point season hasn't had a high scorer. His goal totals aren't mediocre...Having the most goals on this team the past 5 years and having one, one year where he still is comfortably second on the team in goals and points. Its an off year for a player who has two 40 and two 30 goal seasons. At least let him get a reprieve, and like others have said in this thread. Ruff doesn't even use him the best way he can.

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04-09-2012, 02:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobbyorrrrr View Post
Quality minutes have nothing to do with Jame' point. He is saying the problem is putting your best offensive player who has a tremendous shot in front of the net so that Chara can break his neck, just because he is good at tipping shots. Good coaching would be to protect such a player from that situation, especially since this team has no one to scare off the extra attention that Vanek gets. Putting a Vanek elsewhere on the pp would be very interesting with his shot and passing ability. Taking the cheap cross checks game after game leads to more injuries when you do take the big hits.
Yes, I understood that. I also understand that if Ruff played Vanek at the point, it is likely that the Ruff-haters would criticize that move on the grounds that Vanek isn't just "good at tipping shots," but, in fact, is one of the most talented scorers from in and around the paint in the entire NHL. Certainly, he is the best on the Sabres. At the same time, Pominville, Ehrhoff, Leo and Myers all have good shots from the point. If Vanek plays the point, then who plays in front of the net screening goalies, tipping shots and putting in garbage rebounds? Pretty much nobody, which makes for a crappy PP and a crappy coaching job. Vanek plays in the paint because he's the best at it. Yes, he's going to take some physical abuse and get dinged up, but that's what he does. That's like arguing that Ruff should tell Kaleta to stop playing physical so that he gets hurt less. A non-physical Kaleta and a perimeter Vanek are both pretty useless.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, your notion of how to use Vanek has merit and makes some amount of sense to me. But that doesn't make Ruff an idiot, which is what Jame's real point was.

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