Tage Thompson has his sights set on a 50 goal season."I approach every season trying to outdo myself from the previous season, " the Buffalo Sabres forward told NHL.com.He scored 47 goals in 78 games last season,  38 in 78 two seasons ago. He has four goals in nine games entering Buffalo's game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Wednesday  7 p.m. ET; MAX,  TNT,  MSG B.So,  he has been outdoing himself every season,  but it wasn't long ago that Thompson,  who turned 26 Monday https://www.flyersprostore.com/victor-mete-jersey,  didn't know how or if he would be able to get comfortable in the NHL. It was only a little longer than that when Thompson remembers wondering if he'd be able to get comfortable in his own body.He wasn't always 6 foot 6 and 220 pounds.Thompson was 6 1 and 160 when he was a 16 year old arriving at the United States National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor,  Michigan nine years ago.Tall. Skinny."Awkward, " Thompson said.He grew five inches in that 2014 15 season in Michigan. He remembers coming home for Christmas and his parents being shocked at what he looked like."They were both taken back by how tall I was, " Thompson said. "It's something they had to get used to probably as much as I did,  seeing me at 6 4 or 6 5 and 160 instead of 6 1 and 160." Watch Sabres,  Flyers and Blues,  Avs Wednesday on TNT  Thompson,  though,  was always a playmaker with elite hands and a knack for scoring. He scored 23 goals as a Bantam playing in Alaska in 2010 11.His family moved around often because his father,  Brent,  a former defenseman who played 121 NHL games,  was following his path as an oft traveled coach. Brent Thompson is in his first season as an assistant with the Anaheim Ducks.But wherever they lived,  Tage Thompson was a scorer. And he wasn't going to let a five inch growth spurt as a teenager stop him from playing the game how he feels he was meant to play."Once I got out of the awkward stage and I was comfortable,  and it took me three or four years,  into my pro years,  [I realized] the hands,  the shot,  those instincts all stick with you https://www.flyersprostore.com/ronnie-attard-jersey, " Thompson said.He knew that would be the case from watching taller players growing up. He said Evgeni Malkin was his favorite.Malkin,  the Pittsburgh Penguins center,  is 6 foot 3."I feel like I tried to replicate my game after him a little bit, " Thompson said. "Once I did go through that growth spurt I could kind of relate to him a little bit more just being a bigger guy and maybe other people saw me playing a different role than what I felt I was best suited for. For me it was just not trying to conform to something that I wasn't and just sticking to what I believe I knew I could be."He is a top scorer in the NHL,  sixth in goals last season,  eighth  89  since the start of the 2021 22 season. He is known for his hands and skill and ability to put the puck in the net. The fact that he's 6 6 only adds to the challenge of trying to stop Thompson."Not many guys have the skill he has, " Sabres coach Don Granato said. "So you combine the size that's an advantage,  outright Noah Cates Jersey,  with the hands and vision and hockey sense,  and it's a pretty nice package." BUF NJD: Thompson scores impressive goal in 1st  The package includes the ability to win puck battles with his reach. He can protect it with his size."I play against him in practice and to try to take the puck from him is super hard, " Sabres forward Dylan Cozens said. "Obviously because he's so big and it's such a long reach and he's strong on the puck he's good at protecting it. So,  I imagine it's a nightmare for other teams to have to play against him."He can still get up and down the ice with speed like a diminutive forward. He can still pull and drag and release a quick,  hard shot."He's got a lot of different tools that a lot of elite guys don't have, " Sabres forward Alex Tuch said. "When he's playing with a lot of confidence,  he's a gamechanger and dominant player. I guess as his career has gone on,  he's felt more comfortable in his body. He's put on more muscle. He's put on more mass and he's been able to physically be dominant as well instead of just skill wise or vice versa. He's kind of a complete package now."Thompson has three goals in the past three games after scoring one in the first six. The early season mini slump was a reminder of how challenging it is to score in the NHL. The past three have been a reminder to him that he can,  and in bunches.Fifty goals is his personal goal this season. Thompson missed the mark by three last season."It leaves that hunger, " he said,  "that bittersweet taste in your mouth that you know you're close,  but you still have a lot of work to do."