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Sabres Grades: Star Forwards Absent; Krebs Rising Up

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JJ Peterka Buffalo Sabres grades Anaheim Ducks

As you might imagine, the Sabres Grades from Tuesday’s game are not pretty. The Buffalo Sabres lost 4-2 to the Anaheim Ducks, with most of the game lacking any sense of push from the road team.

Must Read: Sabres Hatch Ugly Duckling

If you missed the 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
A+92%100%
A85%92%
A-77%85%
B+69%77%
B62%69%
B-54%62%
C+46%54%
C38%46%
C-31%38%
D+23%31%
D15%23%
D-8%15%
F0%8%

Studs

Peyton Krebs

Grade: A-

Production: C+
Offense: A
Defense: A+
Special Teams: N/A

Krebs, along linemates Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons, drew praise from head coach Don Granato when he spoke post-game. “They were the best for us,” Granato admitted. “They played direct and hard and competitive.”

That direct play led to almost all of Krebs’ time on the ice being in control of the puck and pace of the game. He’s no question a great fit with the grinding, veteran wingers, but perhaps it’s time to see if he can branch out.

JJ Peterka has a pretty direct game but can finish, for instance. Maybe Krebs can be more of a threat for offensive production if he plays with someone like that.

Okposo and Girgensons won’t be around for long, and the Sabres need to start peeking towards the future with the hole they’ve dug themselves in.

Zemgus Girgensons

Grade: B

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

Controlling play and creating chances at an elite level is great, but at some point you have to put the puck in the back of the net. Most teams would be thrilled for their fourth line to simply just keep possession in the offensive zone, but at the rate the Sabres are scoring they need to find production from anywhere in the lineup.

I know that seems like a harsh criticism for someone listed in the “Studs” column, but Girgensons only has one shot on goal to show for an otherwise great effort.

One interesting development is that Girgensons has been slowly weaned off the penalty kill, with Jack Quinn and Alex Tuch starting to harbor more of the shorthanded duty. Tage Thompson and Jordan Greenway remain in a top penalty kill role as well.

JJ Peterka

Grade: B

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

Peterka flashed at times against the Ducks when it seemed like everyone else on the team was sleep-walking. He was sprung for a couple good rush chances using his speed down the wing. Peterka also drew a penalty on a partial breakaway as he was taken down while pulling away from the defender.

He was second on the team in even-strength shots on goal with two, and third in shot attempts at even-strength only behind Krebs and Rasmus Dahlin.

Duds

Jordan Greenway

Grade: D-

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

Greenway’s tip-in goal was the catalyst of what was almost a miracle comeback, but the truth is his line could not get going Tuesday night. Since the events during a pulled goalie aren’t factored in to the score-adjusted numbers, Greenway’s production grade couldn’t even mask the poor effort.

Instead we’re left with wondering where Greenway fits if he can’t complement a scoring line, since the Sabres have Thompson, Dylan Cozens, and Casey Mittelstadt down the middle and have yet to recreate last year’s scoring touch.

Henri Jokiharju

Grade: D-

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

Granato and the coaching staff essentially deployed Jokiharju as the team’s fourth defenseman against the Ducks, and the move backfired. For the second straight game, Jokiharju finds himself in the “Duds” column.

A restricted free agent at the end of the season, you have to wonder if the Sabres start shopping the right-handed defenseman at the deadline. Righties generally carry more value since they’re more scarce, and it doesn’t seem to be working out between Jokiharju and the coaching staff.

As for his play, Jokiharju was too quick to shoot the puck from low-danger areas – mostly at the blueline – with limited traffic in front. Quick whistles and deadened zone time are the result, posing no real threat of offense when Jokiharju is on the ice.

Dylan Cozens

Grade: D

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

You do not expect to see Cozens in the “Duds” column very often, and for good reason. The former top-10 pick should be driving the bus when on the ice, but instead had it taken to him on Tuesday.

Aside from providing a spark to the powerplay – which looked much improved – Cozens was constantly chasing the game instead of taking it over. He’s not the only one, as none of Buffalo’s top forwards were able to even sniff a “B” grade in this game.

Sabres Grades 1/23/24

PlayerPositionPercentileGrade
Peyton KrebsF80%A-
Zemgus GirgensonsF66%B
Jj PeterkaF63%B
Ukko-Pekka LuukkonenG60%B-
Kyle OkposoF59%B-
Rasmus DahlinD58%B-
Casey MittelstadtF51%C+
Mattias SamuelssonD51%C+
Owen PowerD38%C-
Connor CliftonD36%C-
Tage ThompsonF36%C-
Jeff SkinnerF34%C-
Ryan JohnsonD33%C-
Alex TuchF31%C-
Jack QuinnF30%D+
Zach BensonF20%D
Dylan CozensF17%D
Henri JokiharjuD14%D-
Jordan GreenwayF11%D-

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