To say that Drew Stafford has been in a slump is pretty much an understatement. 14 games played and he has yet to score one goal this season. In fact, you have to go back to March 31, 2012 to find the last game that Stafford has scored in. This slump has been highlighted across multiple outlets with some sensible opinions found in the Buffalo News to the utterly ridiculous elsewhere.
It's not like Stafford hasn't had the chances to score this season. He is second on the team in shots coming into tonight's game with 40. He had a wide open net in the first period of Tuesday's game against the Ottawa Senators that he missed. Luck just hasn't been on his side when you factor that his PDO is a career low 956. By comparison, Stafford's PDO when he had his career high 31 goals was a 1048. The basemark for a person is 1000.The low PDO is completely accounted for by the fact that he hasn't scored yet this season. It also tells us that he will eventually score. The question for most Sabres fans is when? It was answered just three minutes into the game. Breaking his streak against Boston made sense. He has 10 goals in 34 games played against Boston, which behind Toronto is his second highest scoring opponent.
Lindy Ruff still had a little confidence in Stafford as he started the game with Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno. The first shift for the line was a train wreck. The offense never got the puck out of the defensive zone, had one giveaway, and gave up one shot on goal. Then, on the second shift of the game for the Stafford line, something very different happened. Stafford actually scored a goal. “I was able to get a great pass play from [Ennis] there and bear down. I've been waiting for it to happen and finally it went in,” recounted Stafford after the game. Stafford finished the first period with 6:23 of ice time and had just the lone shot that he scored on. The second period saw a little less ice time with just 5:09, but three more shots on goal and a faceoff win.
After finishing one of the worst overall periods of hockey the Sabres have put out, the third period was a transformation of the team. The Sabres scored three times and Stafford was able to get an assist on the game winner. “I knew someone was coming down, I didn't know it was [Ehrhoff]. The rush started and I was trying to get pucks on net and go for a rebound and trying to get the puck back out front.”
Stafford finished the game with 18:17 of ice time, one goal, one assist and five shots on goal. The five shots on goal were the most of any Sabres player and tied Rich Peverley and Patrice Bergeron for the game lead. This game was his first multi point game since the last time he scored a goal, March 31st.
Now that the monkey is off Stafford's back, it is imperative to the team that Stafford continues on the scoring pace. From coach Lindy Ruff after the game, “He's gotten himself in some real good positions in the last couple of games. He got himself in a real good position there. He found that hole right in front of the net and it was a great pass by Ennis and he finished the play. Hopefully, that is the one that gets him going.