If not for the NHL lockout, Buffalo Sabres forward Thomas Vanek would have missed an opportunity to return home to play in his native Austria.
The time off and brief but sweet homecoming last fall did wonders for Vanek in rekindling his passion for hockey and his scoring touch.
Vanek's newfound perspective has been on display through the first three weeks of the NHL season. He finds himself leading the league with 10 goals and 21 points.
Vanek has scored a point in all but one of the 10 games he's played. He's enjoyed five multiple-point games already, and is coming off an outing in which he scored two third-period goals — including a game-tying tally with 2 seconds left — in a 5-4 shootout victory over Montreal on Thursday.