The Buffalo Sabres have had a turbulent November, but the one thing that has been going well is the offensive production. They have scored 81 goals this season, which is good for fifth in the league, but the bulk of that offense has come from a select few players. They need to find a balance to spread out the scoring, and recently, they have been getting exactly that from their “kid line” of Dylan Cozens, Jack Quinn, and JJ Peterka.
Head coach Don Granato continues to put a lot of faith in these three, as they have been allotted second-line ice time for the past few games. Cozens has played in that role for most of the season, but of late, Quinn and Peterka have looked sharp and have earned their way up the roster. Seeing the short-term success of these players is a breath of fresh air from a development standpoint, and as the season progresses, they will all continue to grow together on the same line.
Jack Quinn’s Goal Scoring Has Arrived
For the first 14 games that Quinn played for the Sabres this season, he only managed a single goal, and he was even scratched from the lineup early on. He looked lost and otherwise invisible for most games, but recently, he has shown up to play in a big way. In the last three games, Quinn has three goals and has looked relentless. He has been starting plays, finishing plays, and doing everything else in between as he has begun to shine in his new role in the top six. On top of all of that, he has rediscovered his chemistry with Peterka from when they played in Rochester last season.
Quinn has always struggled to make an immediate impact, but that has never stopped him from developing his game. He continues to work and grind, and the effort he is putting in pays off every time. Right now, Sabres fans are being treated to a glimpse of what he can be and what he will mean to the team down the line. His goal-scoring ability is finally on the rise, and it will make an immense difference for the Sabres.
JJ Peterka’s Consistency
Peterka made a splash at the start of the campaign by scoring the first Sabres goal of the season, and he had a short point streak to go with it. Even when he hasn’t been scoring, he has still been one of the most consistent players on the roster. He is always hustling and driving plays up the ice, and he can always be found for a high-danger scoring chance. So far, he has moved around and played with a few different players, but he has found a home next to Cozens. The work ethic between the two of them is unmatched by anyone else on the team, and there is no reason to believe that they will lose that chemistry.
Peterka has scored 11 points in 2022-23, which is only one more than Quinn, but those numbers will rise as they continue to play together. Last season in Rochester, both Quinn and Peterka were dynamic scorers who played off one another’s strengths, and now it looks like they have found that spark again. Peterka is more of a playmaker, but he has an underrated shot and will still contribute goals if his other two linemates struggle. He completes the line, and while his contributions may get overlooked, he will not be undervalued.
Dylan Cozens is Blossoming into a Star
Last season, Cozens had a very quietly successful campaign, but this year he is getting more attention. His 16 points in 22 games are good for fifth on the team, behind the Sabres’ top line and star defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. He has played against opposing teams’ top players, shut them down in key situations, and he still finds time to make big plays. He also has had the most shorthanded scoring chances of any Sabre, and it stems from his relentless play. His confidence continues to grow, and his leadership ability is only going to improve along with it. Cozens is the complete package and he is putting on a show this season.
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So far, he has done nothing but succeed. He started out splitting time between the third and fourth lines but has earned his way up to the second line, beating out Casey Mittelstadt in the process. He was a secondary option on the power play as he played a tough role on the second unit but now finds himself on the right side of the first unit as a primary scoring threat. He is still only 21 years old, but he is playing like a seasoned veteran, and Granato has clearly noticed by giving Cozens his own line to run. He has shown that he can do it all, and with his newfound chemistry with the other young guns, he is the glue that will hold this “kid line” together.
“Kid Line” is the Key to Successful Playoffs
Buffalo is currently going through another rough patch in the crease, and their defense has been struggling to lock down games as of late. The offense has been the only reason that they are winning games, and if the Sabres wish to continue scoring, they will need to get more contributions from players who aren’t named Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch, Jeff Skinner, or Dahlin. The “kid line” having immediate success is promising, but they need sustained success.
Cozens, Peterka, and Quinn are all on the upswing, and the time is ripe for them to be a part of the primary scoring. Each of them has a unique skill that complements the other two, and in time, they could become one of the top lines in the league. If the Sabres have any hope of moving up the standings, they will need this line to create chances and finish at a similar rate to the top line.
I have been a hockey and Buffalo Sabres fan since I was in middle school. Through the good times and the very long bad times, I have stuck by this team with the hope that one day we would become a powerhouse in the NHL. Now I join The Hockey Writers as I hope to talk about this Buffalo Sabres team on an upswing. I love this team with all my heart, and I take pride in my ability to know players, prospects, and so much more. As a hockey fan I have a particular taste for young players and prospects; doing mock drafts, looking up stats, guessing potential, doing player comparisons, all of it. The idea of the future skill in the NHL is one of my favorite things to think about, write about, and talk about. I am also an avid NHL gamer with a top ranked team in the “Threes Eliminator” mode.