December 13, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
HIS NUMBERS: Goals: 0 Assists: 0 Points: 0 Plus/minus: -1
The Jets did a solid job containing the NHL's leading scorer and his linemates Jason Pominville and Cody Hodgson. In fact, it was that line that was out-worked early in their own zone when the Jets swarmed down low to force a turnover that led to Bryan Little's marker. Vanek didn't even register a shot in the first and was guilty of two giveaways.
Nobody jumped off the page for the Sabres in the middle frame other than Jason Pominville, who narrowed the Jets lead to 2-1 with a goal with just 22 seconds left in the period. Vanek was again mostly invisible and it led to some chatter in the press box that he was possibly hiding an injury.
Vanek would finish the night with just over 19 minutes of ict time on 24 shifts, but in the third he and linemates again didn't generate much. The Jets' top line of Blake Wheeler-Bryan Little-Andrew Ladd was matched up against the Vanek trio often in the third and were far superior.
What we liked: In this one? Not a whole heckuva lot. Like a lot of the Sabres, he looked uninspired or tired for long stretches and the cascade of boos was heard early and often.
What we didn't like: Vanek became the NHL's scoring leader this season with a series of highlight-of-the-night plays. But the spectacular moments were absent from his game against the Jets.
SYNOPSIS: Vanek won't hold the scoring lead much longer with a few more efforts like this. That said, chasing the Art Ross trophy is the least of his worries. The Sabres look to be in a world of hurt even with his efforts through the first chunk of the season. Most important might be this right now: of his 12 goals, none have been game winners. And that's a trend he'd kill to change.
-- Ed Tait
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