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Sabres Grades: Peterka Scores Highest Grade of Season

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JJ Peterka Devon Levi Sabres grades Kings

Two goals, three points, four shots, and three Kings penalties drawn earned JJ Peterka one of the highest Sabres grades of the season so far. It was a spectacular performance for the second year winger, who essentially willed the Buffalo Sabres to a win Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

Must Read: Sabres Score Four Straight to Overthrow Kings

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

JJ Peterka

Grade: A+

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

Peterka’s been a mainstay in the “Studs” column as of late, and Wednesday was his best performance yet. While the offense, defense, and special teams grades may not wow you, it’s the penalties drawn and heavy minutes played that boost his overall score.

Previous Sabres Grades: Star Forwards Absent; Krebs Rising Up

In a game where the Kings dominated the shot quality share at even-strength, Peterka, along with Jack Quinn and Dylan Cozens, managed to consistently pose as a threat offensively.

Los Angeles played around with their line matchups to try to shut down the youngsters, but no line was a match for their speed in transition.

Jack Quinn

Grade: A-

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

Overshadowed by his linemate, Quinn had himself a great game as well. The games where he seems to make the biggest impact are games where he’s clean in the defensive zone and pushing play up ice. His vision in transition sprung Peterka down the ice with speed numerous times, as the two got reacclimated with their previous chemistry.

Quinn posted a goal and two assists in the box score, and yet it was some of his unsung-hero work that really impacted the game. When he gets going, the Sabres are a whole different team.

Dylan Cozens

Grade: B

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

Cozens missed a good chunk of the game due to injury and still was very impactful in the win. Much like his linemates, Cozens provided more than just his goal and assist.

The defensive play by Cozens is really attributed to his line’s ability to break the puck out of the defensive zone clean and with speed. He also is good at pressuring the puck without compromising his position, allowing for rush chances the other way.

Cozens primarily saw the Kings’ third and fourth lines in matchups Wednesday, which varies from the Sabres coaching staff asking him to face opponents’ top offensive lines at home. It’ll be interesting to see if Buffalo may ease up some of the defensive responsibility of the Cozens line going forward. They then may be able to provide the offensive spark the Sabres desperately need like we saw Wednesday night.

Honorable Mention

Devon Levi

Grade: B

It seems only right to highlight Levi’s “B” grade here as well, as he earned the top Sabres grade outside of the Peterka – Cozens – Quinn line. Levi’s night started off very shaky at best, especially with Pierre-Luc Dubois’ long wrister beating him clean from the top of the circle.

From that point on, the 22 year-old netminder settled in and was incredible. The poise we saw last year from Levi was back in this game, as he trusted his reads and used his positioning to constantly foil the Kings in tight.

The final 80% of the game was Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen shutout streak level quality goaltending, earning Levi a chance to push for more starts after the break. Having two goalies going well is music to the team’s ears, as that’ll buy them a little more time to figure out how to get the offense going.

Duds

Jacob Bryson

Grade: D

Production: C-
Offense: D
Defense: C-
Special Teams: N/A

It was Bryson’s first NHL game action since November 4th, so it’s hard to be super critical. Still, he only played 10:50 of ice-time and was on the ice for a goal against.

Erik Johnson’s been consistently mediocre for the Sabres, which is about all you can ask from a bottom pair defenseman. Once he and Mattias Samuelsson recover from injury, Bryson will only be required to play in spot duty going forward.

Jeff Skinner

Grade: D+

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

Skinner just doesn’t seem to have the same burst since returning from injury, so the pending bye week for the Sabres will likely do him wonders. Aside from some quality work on the powerplay, Skinner was caught flat-footed too many times throughout the game.

Jordan Greenway

Grade: D+

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

It’s pretty clear at this point that Greenway is going to hold back whichever line he’s on offensively. What’s keeping him effective and in the lineup is his contributions defensively, especially when the Sabres are shorthanded.

Ideally, Greenway would be a better fit on the fourth line with Peyton Krebs and Kyle Okposo, and Zemgus Girgensons’ injury may open up a spot for him there. It seems like Buffalo needs to find a better two-way player to compliment Casey Mittelstadt on the third line.

Sabres Grades vs. Kings

PlayerPositionPercentileGrade
Jj PeterkaF100%A+
Jack QuinnF80%A-
Dylan CozensF69%B
Devon LeviG65%B
Ryan JohnsonD59%B-
Alex TuchF56%B-
Henri JokiharjuD51%C+
Kyle OkposoF50%C+
Peyton KrebsF48%C+
Rasmus DahlinD47%C+
Owen PowerD44%C
Zemgus GirgensonsF40%C
Tage ThompsonF37%C-
Eric RobinsonF37%C-
Casey MittelstadtF32%C-
Connor CliftonD30%D+
Jeff SkinnerF25%D+
Jordan GreenwayF25%D+
Jacob BrysonD20%D