Thomas Vanek began his point bonanza on opening day. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Early pace by Sabres’ Thomas Vanek could help shatter short-season records

The scoring benchmarks set during the only other lockout-shortened season – the 48-game 1994-95 campaign – are steep. The NHL hadn’t fully devolved into a clutch-and-grab league then.

Top scorers still racked up some pretty gaudy numbers.

Peter Bondra’s 34 goals, two more than Jaromir Jagr, topped the league. Jagr and Eric Lindros both scored 70 points. Ron Francis had 48 assists.

With an utterly dominant three-goal, five-point performance in the Buffalo Sabres’ dizzying 7-4 win over the Bruins on Thursday in Boston, slick winger Thomas Vanek already has six goals and 15 points.

Remember, a muscle strain sidelined the Austrian on Sunday. He’s only played six of the Sabres’ seven games.

Thursday was Vanek’s second five-point game this season. He had two goals and three assists on opening day. He has a point in every appearance so far.

He’s overshadowing linemate Jason Pominville’s five-goal, 12-point start.

At his current pace, Vanek would score 47 goals and 118 points.

Is he going to keep it up? No. Let’s be realistic. No one scores at that pace over a full season these days, not even Sidney Crosby.

Vanek had 11 goals and 24 points in the first 19 games last season before finishing with 26 scores and 61 points in 78 contests. Something cooled Vanek off – perhaps the law of averages, an ultra-tight league or some injuries – and 2011-12 ended up being arguably the most disappointing of his seven NHL seasons.

Still, Vanek’s scorching start is no fluke. Forget that he’s not even a regular 30-goal scorer anymore. Few are better than him at the peak of their game.

He’s the first Sabres player with two five-point games in a season since 1992-93, when Pat LaFontaine had six and linemate Alexander Mogilny had three, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

LaFontaine tallied 53 goals and team-record 148 points that season. Mogilny scored a team-record 76 goals and 127 points.

Vanek and Pominville won’t be sniffing those crazy numbers in 2012-13. This season’s final 41 contests should be fun, though. Some 48-game records could fall.

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