BUFFALO – Andrej Meszaros’ revival started weeks ago, before the Sabres defenseman scored two goals in consecutive games during a three-day stretch.
After months of awful play, the 29-year-old Slovak started showcasing some of his old form, moving around the ice, utilizing his heavy shot and making fans wonder where that play has been all season.
Meszaros struggled from the get-go after signing a one-year, $4.125 million deal July 1.
Why did the former first-round pick have such a hard time adjusting earlier this season?
“Maybe he didn’t work hard enough in the beginning,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said bluntly prior to tonight’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs inside the First Niagara Center. “I’m not too sure.”
Meszaros also traces his resurgence to his work ethic.
“I don’t think I changed anything in my game,” he said. “I just maybe started working harder than usual. That’s what it’s all about.”
Right now, Meszaros is playing for his future. The Sabres, of course, likely won’t re-sign him. Given his recent play, someone could offer him a one-year deal for much less money.
“It’s really important,” Meszaros said about next season. “It’s just having fun right now, play for next year.”
Meszaros scored twice in Monday’s 4-1 win in Arizona after scoring twice in the third period of Saturday’s 5-3 loss in Colorado. He had three goals in his first 52 games.
“The last few games the puck just seems to find its way,” Nolan said. “He’s been working extra after practice. And there’s no secret, I think work and productivity go hand in hand. The last month or so he’s stayed on the ice and done some extra skating, extra shooting. In return, his play’s gotten better.”
Meszaros added: “I feel pretty good, nothing special. Obviously, when you get those first two goals, I’m getting a little bit more confidence. I’ve been trying to shoot the puck more. It’s going in, so it’s not like I haven’t been trying. It didn’t go in. So it’s going in for some reason.”