Everyone knew the Buffalo Sabres needed some offensive life after a three-game skip. Nobody expected that it would come from a player that hadn't even seen the ice since mid-January.
Maxim Afinogenov did not score a goal in the Sabres 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. However, he played the way he used to and people were left partying like it was 2007.
Afinogenov had one assist on Paul Gaustad's powerplay goal but that seems meaningless compared to what he didn't do.
He didn't skate around in circles looking like a one-man circus. He didn't turn the puck over on either end of the ice. As Sabres play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanerett put it, he also did not do the "circle thing," which has come to be Max's trademark and his downfall the past couple seasons.
Afinogenov also made a brilliant defensive play that saved a sure goal in the final period of play. With the Canadiens racing down the ice on a two-on-one breakaway, Afinogenov came off the bench and raced down the ice arriving just in time to break up a cross-ice pass from right in front of the net.
He hustled to every puck and drove defensemen crazy with moves that looked like the old Afinogenov. Not the new Afinogenov that somewhat resembled a drunken man.
The only knock against his game was his short shifts that lasted an average of 42 seconds. Considering the lack of playing time he's had, the conditioning issue is to be expected and will get better with time.
Overall, Afinogenov played the way his contract commands him to and helped the Sabres to their first win in March.