D Steve Montador shines for Sabres amid Buffalo’s early season struggles

TORONTO – In a so far dismal early season for the Buffalo Sabres, who entered Saturday last in the overall standings, there have been few bright spots.

Defenceman Steve Montador, however, has been one of them.

Montador entered Buffalo’s 3-2 shootout win against Toronto on Saturday night tied for fourth in the NHL in plus-minus. His plus-10 rating was seven better than his nearest teammate, and his eight points through 15 games have him on pace for a career year.

“I think the hardest thing to do in any professional sport is be consistent,” said Montador. “It’s tough to be great or good all the time. You just want to give your best and work, and good things will happen.”

“I came into camp in the best shape I’ve ever been in,” he continued. “That allows me to be aggressive when I can defensively and join the rush offensively. A lot of it is just building confidence.”

And the Sabres coaching staff has showed more confidence in Montador. Only Buffalo’s reigning rookie of the year Tyler Myers played more minutes on Saturday.

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Montador was plus-1 against the Maple Leafs and was on the ice in the final moments when Buffalo tied the game, earning an assist on the goal with 17 seconds to play. The very fact Montador was out there during such a crucial time shows what the coaches think of his game this year.

“I think the player shows the coach confidence in himself, that’s what great players do,” Montador said.

The 30-year-old Vancouver native is in his second season with the Sabres and has played for five teams during his career. He’s never scored more than 23 points during his career, but is well on his way to passing that mark this season.

But he’s a team guy first.

“I’d certainly trade that for flip-flopping our wins and losses,” he said.