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Sabres Grades: Luukkonen Shined; Buffalo Couldn’t Produce



Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen Buffalo Sabres grades Vancouver Canucks

It was Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s time to shine in Buffalo Saturday evening with the Canucks in town, as he tops the game’s Sabres Grades. It was a tough 1-0 loss to the Vancouver, who are among the league’s best in the standings. The Finnish goalie did well to limit them to one goal, but unfortunately he didn’t get much help from the offense.

Must Read: Demko Blanks Sabres in a Storm

If you missed Wednesday’s introduction to the new grading system, we’re assigning letter grades to each Buffalo player based on game performance. The letter grades are assigned based on statistical computation, taking into account the following factors:

  • Production
  • Quality of offense
  • Quality of defense
  • Volume of offense
  • Volume of defense
  • Powerplay performance
  • Penalty kill performance
  • Penalty differential
  • Role
  • Minutes played

Previous Sabres Grades: Thompson, Dahlin, Krebs Best Ottawa

GradeLower LimitUpper Limit


Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

Grade: B

Grading Luukkonen’s performance is pretty straightforward. He didn’t face many shots, but the quality faced was fairly strong thanks to some good Canucks scoring chances. Overall, he turned away 22 of the 23 shots faced. The Sabres – like much of the NHL these days – will welcome any save percentage above .900. So Luukkonen’s .957 is very encouraging.

In terms of what was expected, Vancouver posted an expected goal total of 2.86 for the game according to Evolving-Hockey. Now, 0.74 of that came with the goalie pulled for the extra attacker, so Luukkonen ended up saving 1.12 goals above-expected.

A solid performance that was plenty good enough to win the game with any goal support from the team in front of him.

Ryan Johnson

Grade: B-

Production: D+
Offense: A-
Defense: F
Special Teams: A

The special teams grade here is a little deceiving, since Johnson only had 12 seconds of powerplay time in the game that happened to be when a good chance was generated. Still, it was a good game for the rookie defenseman in terms of driving offense. Given that the Sabres are leaning more on Rasmus Dahlin to clean things up defensively, they’ll need their other defensemen to step up offensively.

Tage Thompson

Grade: B-

Production: D-
Offense: B-
Defense: B+
Special Teams: A

The production wasn’t there from Thompson today, especially at even-strength with only one shot on goal. There was sustained offensive zone possession when he was on the ice, however, which really boosted his defensive numbers more than the offense. You know the old adage – the best defense is offense.

There were some quality chances with the man-advantage for the top unit, which was, as per usual, focused on getting Thompson opportunities to shoot.

He simply needs to find the back of the net and a “B-” becomes an “A” to quickly boost his standing in the Sabres grades.


Eric Robinson

Grade: D-

Production: F
Offense: F
Defense: D
Special Teams: N/A

It was a very quiet game from Robinson, after it seemed like his promotion to the team’s third line would provide him with a little more opportunity. Robinson ended up with zeroes across the box score, and was on the ice for the only goal against.

Erik Johnson

Grade: D-

Production: D+
Offense: D-
Defense: D
Special Teams: D

If there were points for subjective things such as being a good teammate, Johnson would be much higher on this list. His fight against J.T. Miller addressed one of the key moments in the game after Miller sent Dahlin down the tunnel with an elbow to the head.

As good as it was to see him stick up for the star defenseman, he also put his team in danger with the event. Johnson’s fight limited the Sabres to only three available defensemen at the time, with Dahlin and Mattias Samuelsson in concussion protocol.

Nothing else was impressive about his game Saturday, although perhaps having to face a little tougher competition than normal due to the blueline shortage played a role in that.

Connor Clifton

Grade: D

Production: D
Offense: D+
Defense: F
Special Teams: D-

Speaking of facing tougher competition, Clifton drew the short end of the straw. Not only was he forced to face Vancouver’s second line for the second half of the game, but he also was graciously gifted forward Zemgus Girgensons as his defensive partner while the Sabres were down three defensemen.

Still, Clifton logged heavy minutes with only a goal against to show for it. Not his best showing.

Sabres Grades

Ukko-Pekka LuukkonenG69%B
Ryan JohnsonD58%B-
Tage ThompsonF54%B-
Rasmus DahlinD53%C+
Dylan CozensF45%C
Owen PowerD45%C
Casey MittelstadtF43%C
Jack QuinnF43%C
Alex TuchF40%C
Mattias SamuelssonD38%C-
Zach BensonF37%C-
Kyle OkposoF32%C-
Jj PeterkaF29%D+
Zemgus GirgensonsF29%D+
Jordan GreenwayF26%D+
Peyton KrebsF21%D
Connor CliftonD20%D
Erik JohnsonD13%D-
Eric RobinsonF8%D-