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Sabres Grades: Luukkonen Perfect Against Sharks Attack



Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen Buffalo Sabres grades

Buffalo Sabres goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen earned a perfect grade Monday afternoon against the San Jose Sharks. He turned away all 28 shots in a 3-0 shutout victory on a snowy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Must Read: Luukkonen Shuts Out Sharks

As a whole, Buffalo took care of business against the league’s bottom-dwellers and finished the contest two points richer in the standings. After running the numbers, 12 of the 20 players donning a Sabres sweater put in above average efforts. When 60% of the team averages a “B” grade, you know you can walk away feeling good about the team’s performance.

If you missed last week’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
  • Penalties drawn and taken
  • Role
  • Minutes played
GradeLower LimitUpper Limit


Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

Grade: A+

Don’t let the zero blemishes fool you, it wasn’t an easy game for Luukkonen. San Jose put up 3.49 expected goals according to Evolving-Hockey, which is a little above league average. In particular, Tomas Hertl and Mikael Granlund’s lines were creating quality scoring chances, but couldn’t figure out how to get one past Luukkonen.

It’s the second game in a row that he was Buffalo’s best player. The Sabres netminder has slowly climbed his way to more wins than losses on the season with a 10-9-2 record. He currently stands at a 2.77 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage, giving him a firm grasp on the default starting role going forward.

Previous Sabres Grades: Luukkonen Shined; Buffalo Couldn’t Produce

Rasmus Dahlin

Grade: A-

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

Dahlin did everything but produce for the Sabres on Monday. Aside from an empty-net assist, he did not record a shot on goal and only had one blocked shot. Just a reminder that empty net goals do not count towards the production score, so that is why Dahlin’s production was listed at a “D-“.

His game is proof that you don’t always have to produce to be effective. When Dahlin was on the ice, the Sharks simply couldn’t get into high-danger areas. Part of his effectiveness is that he controlled play up the ice throughout most of the game, and didn’t allow major rush chances coming back down the ice.

A great game for the team’s All-Star representative.

Peyton Krebs

Grade: B+

Production: F
Offense: A+
Defense: B
Special Teams: N/A

Krebs is starting to find himself in the “Studs” category quite often lately, this time for helping his line generate outstanding offensive pressure throughout the game. It wasn’t long before Krebs and Zemgus Girgensons were joined by Eric Robinson on the wing after head coach Don Granato did some line shuffling. The result was a flurry of chances in and around the net, including a grade-A opportunity for Krebs with a yawning cage.


Erik Johnson

Grade: D

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

For the second game in a row, Johnson finds himself in the “Duds” column. Given that his primary defense partner Owen Power also struggled, it’s a sign that he’s really anchoring the second pair that’s usually a catalyst for the team.

Johnson made his mark on the game with two shots and three blocked shots, masking his poor defensive play with noticeable events. It’s time for a shake-up with the defense pairs until the Sabres find something that works.

Dylan Cozens

Grade: D

Production: F
Offense: F
Defense: A-
Special Teams: C-

Granato correctly identified that Cozens’ line was not rolling as well offensively as the normally are and limited their minutes. Cozens played a team-low nine minutes at even strength, and was severely sheltered in those minutes.

He was deployed against San Jose’s relatively ineffective third line after starting the game drawing the more more dangerous Granlund line as a matchup. The move ended up being a good one, as the defensive performance saved Cozens from a disastrous game.

Jack Quinn

Grade: D+

Production: C
Offense: D-
Defense: B-
Special Teams: C

It’s no surprise to see Quinn listed where his centerman is, as he plays a big role in driving offense for Cozens and JJ Peterka. Aside from a nice assist on Alex Tuch’s powerplay goal, Quinn struggled on the penalty kill and creating even-strength offense.

Luckily, the porous two-plus minutes shorthanded did not result in a goal-against thanks to Luukkonen standing strong. Quinn will have to be better if the Sabres want to do some damage against the better teams in the league.

Sabres Grades

Ukko-Pekka LuukkonenG100%A+
Rasmus DahlinD78%A-
Peyton KrebsF74%B+
Casey MittelstadtF62%B
Zemgus GirgensonsF62%B
Eric RobinsonF58%B-
Zach BensonF57%B-
Tage ThompsonF55%B-
Jj PeterkaF54%C+
Jordan GreenwayF54%C+
Henri JokiharjuD53%C+
Ryan JohnsonD51%C+
Alex TuchF44%C
Kyle OkposoF43%C
Connor CliftonD42%C
Owen PowerD28%D+
Jack QuinnF27%D+
Dylan CozensF21%D
Erik JohnsonD20%D