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Sabres Grades: Sabres Couldn’t Solve Samsonov



Buffalo Sabres grades Toronto Maple Leafs Ilya Samsonov

The Buffalo Sabres scored well in the Sabres Grades, but couldn’t score on Ilya Samsonov in their 3-0 shutout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. 13 of the 19 Sabres that touched the ice had an average grade or better. Even more impressively, seven of those 13 earned a “B”. It’s proof that sometimes, a team just gets goalied.

Must Read: Powerplay Fails Sabres in 3-0 Shutout Loss to Maple Leafs

If you missed the introduction to the 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


JJ Peterka

Grade: B+

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

The scoring chances were there for Peterka. It was just one of those snake-bitten games. Peterka missed the net on a great cross-crease setup and saw the puck slide off his stick trying to slip one into the open net. Those are two prime scoring opportunities that the Sabres had on Samsonov.

Peterka’s been Buffalo’s most consistent scorer throughout the season, so one game won’t define him. The fact that he still registered a “B+” thanks to the offense generated is a testament to his game.

Tage Thompson

Grade: B

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

Thompson registered a “B+” grade on the powerplay, which went scoreless on six attempts. There was good puck movement and shot selection at times with the man advantage, but the Sabres have struggled to have their powerplay complement their quality five-on-five play.

Thompson is a big part of that, as teams have keyed in on him and his shot from the left circle. Moving around, more meaningful passing, and having his teammates step up as threats are necessary to right the ship. Whatever grades the Sabres powerplay earned though, not being able to score on Samsonov cost them.

That said, Thompson followed up his four-goal night with a quality performance, especially considering he was primarily matched against Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs’ top line.

Zemgus Girgensons

Grade: B-

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

Credit where credit is due, Zemgus Girgensons turned his performance around from Friday in a major way. The primary goal of the Sabres’ fourth line is to shut down the opponent, and they kept the Leafs shot quality to a minimum.

Girgensons was all over the ice and even earned a minute and a half of ice time on the penalty kill. His even-strength line even generated a fair bit of offense and saw a spike in minutes. Despite doing well in the Sabres Grades, they too could not solve Ilya Samsonov.


Connor Clifton

Grade: D

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

Clifton struggled on both ends of the back-to-back. Besides taking an unnecessary interference penalty, he was constantly playing on the wrong side of the puck. The Sabres could not get anything going offensively when he was on the ice, and quality defense can only get you so far.

Clifton makes splash plays – big hits, quality pinches – but most of his game is one-dimensional. You’d like your fifth defenseman to be pushing for a top-four role, but it doesn’t appear that is in the cards here.

Peyton Krebs

Grade: D

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

Krebs’s line played the least amount of minutes for the Sabres, and rightfully so. They were the team’s least effective line, which the coaching staff identified appropriately.

The Krebs and Skinner duo hasn’t worked. Perhaps they’re too similar but with the rotation of wingers they’ve had they’ve never found a combination that clicked.

Jacob Bryson

Grade: D+

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

Based on recent trends, the offense isn’t coming from the Bryson-Clifton pairing. With only seven games left, the Sabres will likely ride out the season as is. The return of Mattias Samuelsson next season won’t improve the offense from the third pair, so management will have to take a long look at more skilled options.

Jj PeterkaF73%B+
Tage ThompsonF68%B
Alex TuchF61%B-
Rasmus DahlinD61%B-
Zemgus GirgensonsF61%B-
Victor OlofssonF60%B-
Owen PowerD59%B-
Bowen ByramD54%C+
Dylan CozensF52%C+
Tyson JostF49%C+
Henri JokiharjuD46%C+
Jordan GreenwayF45%C
Ukko-Pekka LuukkonenG41%C
Jeff SkinnerF38%C-
Zach BensonF37%C-
Jack QuinnF34%C-
Jacob BrysonD28%D+
Connor CliftonD25%D+
Peyton KrebsF25%D+