Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville was asked whether longtime linemate Thomas Vanek is playing the finest hockey of his career?

"Close to it, anyway," said Pominville.

Close to it? Whoa, if the start of this season hasn't been the 29-year-old Vanek at his absolute best, we're sorry we weren't there to see it when he was better.

Pominville quickly realized his initial response sounded just a bit silly — after Vanek toasted the Bruins with three goals and two assists in a 7-4 Sabres win last night at the Garden, giving him 6-9-15 totals in six games.

"For sure, yeah, obviously it is his best stretch," said Pominville. "I don't know why I even said that. This is the best stretch he's ever played. He's good on both sides of the puck, he's skating well and making plays. It's fun for our line to click the way we have early on. Hopefully we can keep it going."

What is Vanek doing best in this stretch?

"Skating, skating, I think he's skating really well," said Pominville. "Honestly, when he's going his best, it's when he's moving his feet. I think at times he doesn't skate as well or stops skating, and that's maybe when he doesn't play his best games.

"He can shoot, he can make plays, but his speed is really deceptive. It's something nobody really talks about. You talk about his hands, his vision in the offensive zone, but his speed is really underrated."

Vanek's days as a bit of an under-the-radar NHL star are probably over now. He has at least a point in each game in the young season, including a five-point effort in the season-opener vs. Philly. At least temporarily, the five points last night boosted him into the league scoring lead (pending the anticipated production of San Jose Sharks Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton later in the night).