Andrej Meszaros joined the Buffalo Sabres as a free agent in July of 2014. Prior to that, the veteran played for the Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers, and Boston Bruins. According to TSN, Meszaros has 63 goals and 237 points in 639 career games.
Meszaros was brought to the Sabres to provide a veteran presence to the blueline. With Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov logging significant games with the club this season, the Sabres needed a veteran to help move these youngsters move in the right direction.
The Sabres have had a rough time scoring goals this season. With just six games left to play in the 2014-2015 season, the Sabres have an NHL-worst goal differential of -107. According to NHL.com, Buffalo has lit the lamp just 148 times this season which is the least of any team and 13 goals behind the Arizona Coyotes who have the 29th best goal total.
Random III: Sabres' Andrej Meszaros scored two goals in back-to-back games and has 6 goals in past 13GP. He scored once in first 41 games.
— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) March 31, 2015
Despite the team’s season-long struggles, Meszaros has notched four goals in his last two games. His goal scoring streak is adding some level of excitement to close out the season but it is coming at a time when many fans are hoping for losses. With just four points separating the Sabres and Coyotes in the standings, a sudden increase in offensive production could diminish this gap and possibly impact the Sabres’ position with respect to the McEichel sweepstakes.
[See Also: Buffalo and Arizona Overshadowed by Fan Reactions by Chad DeDominicis]
Meszaros’ Cluster of Goals
Meszaros’ goal streak began in the midst of a recent Sabres’ loss to the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs were up by a score of 4-0 heading into the third period when Meszaros lit the lamp just three minutes into the closing frame. Forward Johan Larsson broke into the Colorado zone and the puck circled back to Ristolainen. He passed the puck over to Meszaros who made a move to draw Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov out of position and he found the back of the net.
Meszaros’ next goal happened about two minutes later. The Sabres moved into the Colorado zone and the Avs gained possession. A turnover ensued that put the puck right on Meszaros’ stick. He ripped a shot at the net that beat Varlamov to make it a 5-2 score. Despite his efforts, the Sabres ultimately lost this contest to the Avalanche by a 5-3 score.
The veteran continued his goal scoring streak in Monday’s game against Arizona. The Sabres managed to out-shoot Arizona in the first period but exited the opening frame losing by a 1-0 score. Meszaros opened the scoring for Buffalo a little over four minutes into the second period with a power play goal. The goal materialized quickly with Mikhail Grigorenko winning the draw and Andre Benoit sending a pass to Meszaros near the blue line who shot it past Coyotes’ goaltender Mike Smith.
The veteran’s second goal also was scored from a shot made near the blue line. Nicolas Deslauriers moved the puck into the zone, passed it across the ice to Zac Dalpe, and his shot was blocked by Arizona goaltender Mike Smith. Deslauriers picked up the rebound and fed it back towards the blue line. Meszaros one-timed the shot and beat Smith to give Buffalo a 2-1 lead.
Beware of Late-Season Hot Streaks
Under normal circumstances, this late-season offensive outburst by Andrej Meszaros would be much appreciated by Sabres fans. With playoff races often decided by a few points, an end-of-season hot streak can be very useful for those clubs who are in the thick of the playoff race. This, however, is not the case for the current 30th place Buffalo Sabres who are not in the playoff race but find themselves in a different kind of competition this season.
The 2015 NHL Entry Draft will feature two potential franchise players in forwards Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. The team finishing in 30th place has a 20% chance of landing the first overall pick and an 80% chance at the second overall pick. This gives the 30th place team a 100% chance of landing one of these future superstars. The Sabres are the current front-runners in the McEichel sweepstakes but an offensive hot streak could put this position into jeopardy.
Tim Murray quote from @nytimes article on Connor McDavid: "I watch him too much and I think too much about him. I wish I could help myself."
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 29, 2015
The Arizona Coyotes are currently the 29th place team in the NHL and they sit just four points ahead of the Sabres. Buffalo defeated Arizona by a 4-1 score on Monday night. Meszaros’ first goal in Buffalo’s game against Arizona tied the match and his second goal ended up being the game winner.
The Buffalo win allowed Arizona to gain some ground on the Sabres in the race for 30th. The Sabres still have the upper-hand in the McEichel sweepstakes but the final stretch of games will be a stressful time for many fans.
[See Also: Sabres and Coyotes Clash in Quest for Last Place]