Buffalo Sabres rookies proving themselves amidst playoff race

The Buffalo Sabres have stagnated as of late, something that can predictably happen to a young team in the wild card race.

It’s so easy for young teams like the Buffalo Sabres to play a volatile game when the playoff race heats up. With hardly any experience in crunch time, pressure can get the best of a group full of youth…for the most part, anyway.

But you would also think rookies J.J. Peterka, Jack Quinn, and Owen Power would be the ones primarily responsible for many of the mishaps that have plagued the Sabres lately. Only, it seems as though their games continue to develop in the face of all this adversity.

Take J.J. Peterka, who went 26 straight contests without a goal. He also found himself scratched four times. But recently, he’s been one of the better players in the lineup, with seven points, two goals, and five assists over the past eight contests.

What’s more? When Peterka and his usual line mates Jack Quinn and Dylan Cozens hit the ice, 61% of the Sabres shot attempts at 5-on-5 have occurred. You’d think the Tage line would be pulling off those numbers.

Buffalo Sabres rookies weathering the storm that is the wild card race

Peterka hasn’t been the only one turning heads. Lately, we’ve seen Jack Quinn producing. In his last 19 outings, Quinn has 12 points, including three multi-point games in his past 15 contests.

When Alex Tuch went down with an injury a few weeks back, Quinn received the nod to fill in on the first line for a handful of games. What’s more? His defensive game and physical play has also picked up recently – he’s logged 15 hits in his last 20 contests (21 in his first 40), and 25 takeaways for the year.

Then of course, there is Owen Power, whose offensive play has picked up in lieu of this wild card race. Like all rookies, Power has had his fair share of flaws, as opponents have caught him out of position at times, and I think we’ve all lost count over how many eventual goals or turnovers bounced off his skate.

But Power’s still been cool and collected as his game has gradually shifted up the ice. Eight of his 27 points have come in his last 14 games, and this has all come with a substantial amount of ice time, which ranks second on the team among skaters next to Rasmus Dahlin.

Overall, the Buffalo Sabres rookies have all seen their struggles this season. Something we could have all predicted. But each have made strides and have expanded their game lately, which should at least lead to strong finishes to what has been a better than expected season.

(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)

Source: Sabres notebook: JJ Peterka proving that a rookie can learn fast in a playoff race by Lance Lysowski, BuffaloNews.com