When you look at the Buffalo Sabres’ success so far this season, you can break it down to some obvious components. Ryan Miller is the complete goalie package, leading the league in save percentage and goals against average. Lindy Ruff is a Jack Adams Award Winner and his players always work hard for him. However, one thing that is getting overlooked this season is the Sabres have established themselves a legitimate 1-2 punch up the middle this season – arguably, something the Sabres haven’t seen since Danny Briere and Chris Drury left town.
Derek Roy (81% owned) has been solid dish-master for the Sabres for a while, topping 40 assists for the past 3 seasons and is on pace to do the same this year. Typically paired with sniper Thomas Vanek, Roy has given fantasy owners 11 goals and 25 assists in his 47 games played on the year. It’s a dropoff from his 81 points in 2007-08 but he’s on pace to match last season’s 70 points but with a bit more grit. Roy has 30 PIMs on the year and is due to return to levels prior to last season’s 38 PIMs.
While Derek Roy is giving you consistency, Tim Connolly (63% owned) has played in every Sabres game so far this season (jinx) – something Sabres fans haven’t seen anything close to since 2002-03 when he played in 80 games. Since then, Connolly’s offensive game has molded into form to near point-per-game status but fantasy owners haven’t been able to reap the benefits for a full year. Fingers crossed that this is that year as Connolly has 12 goals and 34 assists and a whopping 5th-best 20 powerplay points. Ruff’s line juggling gives Connolly some time with many Sabres wingers but lining up next to Jason Pominville on the second line and top powerplay unit seems to click the best.
A 1-2 punch is integral for a team’s success as is the reason why Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg or Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are split up for the majority of the time. Connolly and Roy give the Sabres the depth up front necessary to match up against the NHL’s elite and their position atop the Northeast Division is clearly evident of that.