Curly-Haired Brilliance

Sometimes words can’t flow as brilliantly as someone on skates.

The thought occurred to me as Tyler Ennis made two grown men fall helplessly to the ice before tying the game at one on Monday night. All the words Sabres fans have strewn together about their hockey team this season pale in comparison to such a beautiful goal.

That moment, and its importance, feels lost to a last-gasp goal from Montreal and Tyler Myers’ heroics in overtime. Still, I can’t recall a more fascinating goal for the Sabres this season.

Here’s an adjective-filled recap of the tally from CTV:

Tyler Ennis tied the score midway through the frame after catching Andrei Markov lunging to his right in an unsuccessful attempt to get the puck.

Once past Markov, Ennis tap-danced laterally into the slot from the face-off circle, leaving himself alone with a vulnerable Peter Budaj, whereupon the curly-haired sniper popped a wrist shot into the twine past the helpless goaltender at 11:12 of the second. It was Ennis’ ninth marker of the season.

It’s a description nowhere near the beauty of the real deal. TV stations aren’t known for their way with words, but the bar for Ennis dangle deserves to be high. Such ugly clips and phrases should be saved for Ennis’ second of the night, a deflection destined for the stick of Marcus Foligno that was interrupted by defender Alexei Emelin and sent into the net for his tenth goal of the year.

Out of those ten Ennis goals, it’s hard not to imagine that one being the lone blooper. Ennis, when equipped with two working ankles and minimal bruising, has been excellent for the Sabres. Then again, the ‘curly-haired sniper’ has 18 points in 36 games, a far cry from a 49-point outing last season.

Then again (again), he didn’t miss a game last year. His high-ankle sprain on Oct. 22 against Tampa Bay was the first significant injury of his career, one that clearly took some time to rebound from.

Consider him back to form.

It Tyler Ennis had stayed healthy, this Sabres season is likely a very different one. He missed all but one game in January, a month where they went 4-7-1 and was highlighted by a dreadful road trip. The Sabres’ resurgence has mirrored Ennis’ own revival in some ways. A five-game point streak came during a stretch where Buffalo took 13 of 14 points over seven games.

Most recently, three goals in two games as the Sabres start playing the teams they ‘need to beat’ in order to gain ground in the playoff hunt.

There are no takesies backsies in the NHL. Ennis and the Sabres can’t hit the reset button on the console and start the season over, injury-free. What’s left of them is what we have, and thankfully that’s not such a bad thing in recent weeks.

The injuries are no excuse: this team is carrying plenty of flaws. Despite all that, it feels like Ennis and the Sabres are finally building something here, at at the most opportune of times.

No one wants to give the worst team in the conference a loser point, but the end game is what they wanted. Two points, ninth place and forcing the teams they’re chasing to win those games in hand.

This race is far from over, and the mistakes could still add up. Monday night, Tyler Ennis made sure those mistakes didn’t come back to haunt his team.

Here’s hoping he has more than a dozen games left to make some magic this year.