Is it just me or am I starting to hate Drew Stafford less on this roster? Stafford had his struggles last year. They are well chronicled and frequently talked about. I was ready to throw in the towel on the much maligned power forward. He just couldn’t seem to get it together and bring a consistent effort every night. I did however, have a addendum to my surrender.
Throughout the summer when people asked me about Stafford and his chance of being traded or playing for Buffalo this season I would say the same thing: “Drew Stafford is a smart guy. He knows he sucked this year. He knows that the Sabres were not happy with him.”
He’s smart enough to know he has to make up for the bad year with an incredible one in a contract season this year. He’s also smart enough to watch the tape and listen to the coaches to know what he needs to fix. If he truly has the drive to be an NHL player he will be much improved next season.”
I may just be a genius but through three preseason games Stafford is making me look really good. The areas of his game that were abysmal last season were his physical play, mental commitment and defensive play. All of those have made huge leaps this off-season.
With notorious softies Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville throwing their weight around this preseason, it appears as there has been a paradigm shift in the physical play of the organization. Stafford seems to be on board in spades.
Watching him skate through his checks on the forecheck, even after the puck is gone is refreshing. After 3 years of watching him immediately turn and loaf up the ice it’s pretty close to therapeutic. You could tell at the end of last season that Stafford was trying to change his game a little bit and become a more physical presence.
He went after RJ Umberger and mashed his face up, he also started half-heartedly running people into walls. In his defense: it is very difficult to completely change your game in mid-season. Especially to shift your whole mental approach to a game you’ve been playing for decades.
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