Ennis Emerging as Buffalo Sabres’ Strongest Offensive Talent

The Buffalo Sabres’ offense has been improving in recent games but statistics suggest it is still among the NHL’s worst. According to NHL.com, through thirty-six games the Sabres scored just sixty-seven goals or an average of 1.86 goals scored per game. This is currently the worst offensive output in the league. By comparison, the Toronto Maple Leafs currently lead the NHL with an average of 3.33 goals scored per game.

The Sabres also own the second worst goal differential in the NHL at -45. Only the Edmonton Oilers’ have a worse goal differential (-49) than Buffalo. Meanwhile, the Sabres power play is the worst in the NHL. Buffalo has only converted nine out of one hundred one opportunities with the man advantage for an 8.9% conversion rate.

The majority of the Sabres’ offensive struggles were committed in the earlier stages of the season. In the last ten games, for example, the Sabres netted twenty-six goals or an average of 2.60 goals per game. Compared to their overall season average number of goals per game, Buffalo’s offense has been trending higher in recent games.

Tyler Ennis has emerged as the Buffalo Sabres’ strongest offensive talent so far this season. Heading into tonight’s tilt against Ottawa, Ennis leads the team with twenty-three points and he is the only player on the Sabres who has twenty or more points on the season. Forwards Zemgus Girgensons and Drew Stafford are close to eclipsing the twenty point mark while a few others will take a least a few more games to get within striking distance.

Ennis’ twenty-three points aren’t all that impressive by NHL standards, or are they? The Sabres have demonstrated their inability to score on numerous occasions this season and their league-worst average goals per game tells this story. Yet Tyler Ennis has managed to score just below a point per game, about 0.64 points per game to be exact, on a team that has difficulties on offense. In fact, according to Eliteprospects.com, Ennis’ 0.64 points per game is better than his NHL career average which is 0.62. Here is a look at Tyler Ennis’ hockey career and the top three goals he’s scored so far this season.

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A Look Back at Tyler Ennis’ Career

A native of Edmonton, AB, Tyler Ennis is playing in his sixth season in the NHL. The five foot nine-inch and one hundred sixty-nine pound forward is a bit undersized but he has strong offensive instincts. His scoring production is what helped him get drafted by the Sabres and it has helped him earn a spot in the NHL with Buffalo.

Ennis’ junior career played out in western Canada where he spent time playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL. He played as a member of the Tigers for four seasons. According to Eliteprospects.com, Ennis appeared in two hundred forty-five games, scored one hundred fifteen goals, and tallied two hundred thirty-six points.

The time he spent in the WHL was filled with many accolades. Ennis won a WHL championship with the Tigers during the 2006-2007 season. The forward was named to the first team WHL All Stars during the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 seasons. Ennis was also a two-time recipient of the Brad Hornung Trophy for the WHL’s Most Sportsmanlike player.

The Sabres took notice of Ennis prior to the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. After selecting Tyler Myers with pick number twelve in the draft, Buffalo used their twenty-sixth overall pick to draft Ennis. The forward spent the year following the draft playing in the WHL while also winning a gold medal for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships.

Ennis moved up to the AHL for the 2009-2010 season where he spent time playing for Buffalo’s former AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates. In sixty-nine games for Portland, Ennis tallied twenty-three goals and sixty-five points. For his efforts, Ennis was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team, he was recognized for scoring the most points as an AHL Rookie, and he won the Red Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL’s Rookie of the Year.

The 2009-2010 season also marked the beginning of Ennis’ NHL career during which he appeared in ten games for the Buffalo Sabres. During his NHL career, Ennis has appeared in three hundred and three games, scored seventy-seven goals and tallied one hundred eighty-nine points. This season, Ennis leads the Sabres in several statistical categories including total points with twenty-three, assists with fifteen, and he is second on the team with eight goals.

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Tyler Ennis’ Top Three Goals Through Thirty-Six Games

For his efforts earlier this month, Ennis was named the NHL’ first of the week for the week of December 15th. Ennis is on the smaller side but he has a strong hockey awareness. There are several facets of his game that he needs to improve upon including his career +/- statistic which stands at a -37. Overall, however, Ennis has proven to be a valuable player for the Sabres and the club recently signed him to a new contract through the 2018-2019 season.

Here are my picks for Tyler Ennis’ top three goals through his thirty-six games played so far this season. His goal coming in at number three was scored against the Los Angeles Kings. The puck moves into the corner when Drew Stafford sends it to Matt Moulson behind the net.

Moulson finds Ennis sitting alone in front of the net and feeds him the puck. Ennis rifles one past Kings’ goaltender Jonathan Quick for the 1-0 lead. This goal by Ennis turns out to be the only goal of the contest and the game winner for the Sabres.

The second goal showcases Ennis’ offensive instincts against the Toronto Maple Leafs. As the play develops in the Toronto zone, the Sabres get good puck movement in the creation of a scoring chance. Ennis is a major player in the development of this play and winds up with the puck behind the Toronto net.

Ennis spots forward Drew Stafford in front of the net who is unable to put the puck past Leafs’ goaltender James Reimer. Ennis moves to the front of the net and is in the right place at the right time to get the goal.

Finally, Tyler Ennis’ best goal so far during the 2014-2015 season is the goal he scored against the Montreal Canadiens. Many analysts have dubbed this beauty as an early candidate for the goal of the year. Matt Moulson recovers the puck and sends a short pass to Zemgus Girgensons.

Girgensons taps the puck to Ennis who takes care of the rest. Ennis breaks into the zone, moves to the net cutting past two defenders and skating by the goaltender. With his back to the net, Ennis takes a backhand shot and beats Carey Price for the highlight reel goal.