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Sabres Grades: Cozens, Peterka Great Again

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Dylan Cozens Buffalo Sabres grades

Tuesday’s loss to the Dallas Stars was a tough pill to swallow for the Buffalo Sabres, but overall they scored well in today’s edition of Sabres Grades. Only five Sabres recorded sub-par grades, and eight players registered above-average performances. Stars goalie Jake Oettinger may have stole one from them, but if they continue to put up numbers like this the wins will come.

Must Read: Oettinger Stops 47 to Defeat Sabres

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

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

Grade: A+

In a game where the goaltender on the other end stole the show, Luukkonen actually recorded the higher goals-saved above expected per Evolving-Hockey. He continually kept the Sabres in the game, whether it was a breakaway save on Evgeny Dadonov, or battling through two 5-on-3’s.

Buffalo’s has really found something in Luukkonen, who is moving out of “hot goalie” territory and into “he’s just very good” labeling. Ironically the Sabres needed to outscore their goaltending and defensive issues last season, and now it’s the scoring that’s letting Luukkonen down.

Dylan Cozens

Grade: B+

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

The Sabres had some jump after the 10-day layoff, and that was most apparent in Dylan Cozens on Tuesday. Cozens was outstanding in transition, with rush chances at both even-strength and on the penalty kill.

Zach Benson was a seamless fit with he and JJ Peterka, and their line continually created pressure in the offensive zone and turned it directly into quality scoring chances. For a few games now, the Cozens line has been Buffalo’s best.

JJ Peterka

Grade: B+

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

The confidence is soaring for Peterka, who is no longer simply a complementary player but now dictating play with the puck on his stick. One shift in particular, he set up Cozens for a quality one-timer on the rush.

Oettinger made a great save on the play, and the puck came back to Peterka along the right half-boards. He shimmied his way around a defender, cut inside, and ended up creating a slot shot for himself by sheer will.

It’s another impressive showing for the German winger, who is becoming the focal point of Buffalo’s offense. All that was missing in this game was the finish.

Duds

Eric Robinson

Grade: D

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

Robinson was part of the Sabres’ fourth line that simply just couldn’t get it going offensively. They were continually pinned in their own zone, as the Stars were able to match their second line against them in somewhat of a mismatch.

It’s tough to ask for much offensively from Robinson in particular, as that’s not really part of his game. He’s a much different player than Kyle Okposo, and it may take some time for he, Peyton Krebs, and Zemgus Girgensons to get accustomed to each other.

Zemgus Girgensons

Grade: D

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

Girgensons was also a part of the fourth unit that just couldn’t do much other than that offensively. His shorthanded usage had diminished in recent games, but he made a brief appearance on the penalty kill as well that was getting bailed out by Luukkonen.

He’ll be okay going forward, but the Sabres have too many players in his role to not hope for a little more offense from the veteran. Buffalo needs someone to step up in that regard.

Peyton Krebs

Grade: D+

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

Krebs completes the fourth line trio in the “Duds” column, leaving wonder if there’s a better role for him on the team. He’s been up-and-down as of late, but his pedigree suggests that there may be more offense in there somewhere.

With Benson, Cozens, and Peterka set, and Greenway, Mittelstadt, and Tuch clicking, it seems there’s only a top right wing spot available that Okposo is currently occupying. If the Sabres decide to switch Krebs to the wing, that could slide Girgensons to center Robinson and Okposo on a traditional fourth line.

Krebs has been good in his checking role, but with the team struggling to find scoring it may be time to ask a little more of him and see how he responds.

Sabres Grades vs. Stars

PlayerPositionPercentileGrade
Ukko-Pekka LuukkonenG100%A+
Dylan CozensF72%B+
Jj PeterkaF69%B+
Rasmus DahlinD67%B
Zach BensonF62%B
Alex TuchF54%B-
Henri JokiharjuD54%B-
Jeff SkinnerF50%C+
Owen PowerD45%C
Tage ThompsonF44%C
Erik JohnsonD43%C
Casey MittelstadtF41%C
Connor CliftonD39%C
Jordan GreenwayF37%C-
Ryan JohnsonD37%C-
Kyle OkposoF31%D+
Peyton KrebsF26%D+
Zemgus GirgensonsF21%D
Eric RobinsonF21%D