is only halfway through his first full season with the Buffalo Sabres, but the 27-year-old forward has already turned his opportunity with the team into the most productive season of his career. Whether he’s scoring goals, dropping his gloves or providing a physical presence, McCormick is emerging as a key figure in Buffalo’s playoff push.
In Thursday night’s 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, the team directly ahead of Buffalo in the Eastern Conference standings, McCormick scored a tie-breaking goal, got in a fight and drew a penalty which led to the eventual game-winning, power play goal by Drew Stafford
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“He’s done everything we’ve asked and probably more,” said Head Coach Lindy Ruff following the game. “When it comes to putting goals on the board, he got in the fight, I thought that gave us a little bit of energy. He goes out and he goes after it. He’s a good two-way player for us.”
McCormick’s all-around performance on Thursday came on the heels of a two-point night against Philadelphia on Tuesday when he notched a goal and an assist. Through 42 games, McCormick has set new NHL career-highs in goals (6), points (13) and penalty minutes with a team-leading 98, which includes 10 fighting majors. His ability to contribute both on the scoresheet and through his physical play has been noticed by his teammates.
“He’s been great,” said goaltender Ryan Miller
. “He does the little things well and he’s an intense competitor and that’s what we need because when you’re out there and things aren’t going your way sometimes, it’s good to see a guy who can put it all together, whether he’s hitting or making a play or getting the puck to the net, lately he’s been scoring, so it’s great to see.”
From McCormick’s perspective, he has found success on the offensive end by going to the tough areas of the ice.
“Just going to the net, that’s where the goals are. I think that’s where I think I can get my goals are inside on the goalie, get a couple rebound chances,” he said.
McCormick joined the Buffalo organization in 2009 after playing parts of five seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, but spent the entire 2009-10 regular season with the Sabres’ AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates. When Buffalo was locked in a tight playoff series with Boston last spring, McCormick was inserted into the lineup and made an impact, collecting two assists and 14 penalty minutes in three games.
He’s done everything we’ve asked and probably more... He goes out and he goes after it. He’s a good two-way player for us. - Head Coach Lindy Ruff
“He was very highly spoken of by (Portland Head Coach) Kevin Dineen for the way he played (in the AHL), and the fact that Kevin played him in all situations,” said Ruff.
After earning the praise of his coach in Portland last season, McCormick has earned the confidence of Ruff as well. In Thursday’s win, he was on the ice in the closing moments as the Sabres protected a one-goal lead.
“When you can get the confidence from a coach, it’s a great feeling,” McCormick said. “Being out there for the last shift, up by a goal, it’s a great feeling when he can show some confidence in you. You just always have to be ready. If your number is called, you’ve got to do the job.”