BUFFALO — Oh, Tyler Ennis enjoys playing center. Skating there allows the slick Sabres speedster to hold the puck and utilize his creativity more effectively. He can easily move east-west. If Ennis needs to change directions and go north-south, he can simply “turn the jets on,” he said.
“It gives me kind of free reign to use the ice,” Ennis said earlier this week inside the First Niagara Center.
It’s certainly showing. With three goals and six points in three games back at center, the 22-year-old’s confidence is soaring. Overall, he has six tallies and 14 points in the last 15 contests.
“Right now, all I want is the puck,” Ennis said, “and I want to skate out there and make things happen.”
Ennis had skated at left wing almost exclusively during his first two NHL seasons. But with a dearth of scoring pivots, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff put Ennis at center in late January, a position he had played in junior and the AHL.
Ruff only wondered how Ennis would handle his defensive duties playing center.
“He’s got a little bit of fire there and he knows how to get into the body,” Ruff said. “So he’s handled the reads in his own end well. He’s opened up things in the neutral zone for us.”
Ruff switched Ennis back to the wing for a spell recently. Now, he’s probably not leaving the middle, a move Ennis said he’s “cool” with.
“That’s really, for the most part, his home to stay,” Ruff said following Ennis’ two-goal performance Monday against Montreal, which included a highlight-reel undressing of defenseman Andrei Markov.
Ennis, rookie Marcus Foligno and Drew Stafford have quickly morphed into the Sabres’ top line. The trio has seven goals, 15 points and a plus-15 rating in three games since Ruff united them Saturday in Ottawa.