NIAGARA FALLS — There’s no shake without the bake, and in the case of Buffalo Sabres forward Thomas Vanek, head coach Lindy Ruff believes he needs to mix two ingredients together for the best results — meaning a pairing with off-again, on-again linemate Derek Roy.
Roy has stormed out of the gates this year, notching five goals and four assists in nine games for the Sabres.
And as Buffalo travels to Philadelphia tonight (7 p.m., Versus, 550 AM) for the first of three road games, Ruff is hoping Vanek’s two-goal outburst will kickstart the two-time 40-goal scorer.
“In this whole league, it’s groups of two that play well together. Whether it’s (Tim) Connolly-(Jason) Pominville, Pominville-(Jochen) Hecht, Roy-Vanek,” Ruff said Monday after practice. “Roy and Vanek have been together for long periods. When you take them away, it works for a little while. Sometimes, it spurs a little energy into your team. Usually, when you put them back together, that’s when you get your gift.
“It’s like, ‘OK, we get to play again together and let’s do the best with this.’ ”
Vanek failed to register a point in the first four games for Buffalo, which lost three of the four. He’s had at least one point in four of the team’s last five games, however, including a pair of goals in Saturday’s 6-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
“He could’ve easily started in good fashion in the Ottawa game. He had a couple of point blankers that didn’t go in,” Ruff said. “It was nice to see him get a couple. If Brodeur doesn’t make a great save, he’s got three in that game. I think that line is really starting to make things happen. It’s just capitalizing on a consistent basis. I like what they’ve done.”