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Hottest Line in the NHL is in Buffalo



blog-0400145001332337602.jpgBelieve it or not the hottest line in hockey calls Hockey Heaven home. Tyler Ennis, Drew Stafford, and Marcus Foligno are on an absolute tear right now. This line alone could have put up 7 goals on Tampa Bay Monday. They dominated the game almost every shift. The combination of speed and size that this line presents is the type of offense Buffalo has looked for all season. In the last 5 games since Foligno's recall that line has 11 goals, 14 assists, 25 points, and is a combined +22.

Let's first start with the man that makes this line go and that is Tyler Ennis. All season Buffalo has been in search of a #1 center, little did they know that #63 playing wing on their team was that #1 center. Ennis played center at Medicine Hat in juniors as well as Portland of the AHL where he earned AHL Rookie of the Year honors. If you don't like Lindy Ruff here is your chance to be critical of him. What took so long for them to put Ennis at center? It is a natural fit for the 22 year old speedster. Ennis may not be the idle size of a #1 center at 5'9 163 lbs, however his combination of speed, skill, and fearlessness makes up for the size issue. He has the speed to get back in his defensive zone and his quick hands make it easy for him to pick the pocket of forwards in the defensive zone. In his last five games Ennis has 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points and is a +9. Andrei Markov knows how quick Tyler Ennis is...

The surprise player of this trio is Marcus Foligno. Since being recalled from Rochester on his second recall Foligno has 5 goals, 2 assists, 7 points and is a +6. Foligno's play in Rochester allowed for Buffalo to move Zach Kassian and acquire Cody Hodgson. In 27 games in Buffalo Kassian had 7 points, Foligno has that in 6. Foligno is a big body at 6'3 215 lbs, the Buffalo native brings much needed size to the Sabres he is not afraid to throw his body around and head to the dirty areas to score. Foligno was selected in the 4th round in 09 Draft by Buffalo, he wasn't projected to be a top 6 forward in the NHL, more along the line of a 3rd or 4th line grinder. All of that changed when Foligno was a surprise at the Canadian World Juniors tryouts and made the team. Foligno played well in the 2010 World Juniors in Buffalo winning a Silver Medal. His first year of pro hockey in Rochester has also been a success with Foligno with 34 points in 55 games. I always said if a player is going to be a scorer they do it right away, not many players grow into a consistent point producer. Foligno Jump!...

The last guy of the trio is the guy everyone has waited for to get going all season. Drew Stafford has had a very disappointing season after scoring 30 goals last season. In the offseason he signed a 4 year 16 million dollar extension with Buffalo. He has had a hard time living up to that contract and has struggled like many Buffalo scorers. Stafford has had some personal issues this season, but has said that is no excuse for the way his game was going. However Stafford has found life with Ennis as his new center instead of Roy (no coincidence). In his last 5 Stafford has 2 goals, 7 assists, 9 points, and is a +7. He is using his size and speed again to drive the net, that's when you can tell Stafford is at the top of his game. He is going to the net again and burying his chances now. Early in the year he was shooting it wide or hitting iron.

Buffalo needs these three to keep it up for the next 9 games if Buffalo wants any shot at the playoffs. Pre-game blog coming later with 8th place tie again on the line tonight.


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