The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Washington Capitals in yesterday’s preseason opener, and JJ Peterka played a pivotal role in this one.
JJ Peterka is one player who could enjoy a breakout campaign as he enters his second full season with the Buffalo Sabres. And in Sunday’s big preseason win over the Washington Capitals, Peterka did not disappoint.
Although Zach Benson was the talk of the town following a remarkable performance that earned him Second Star of the Game honors, Peterka checked all the boxes and reinforced our belief that his 2023-24 season could be special. He came up big in the clutch not once, but twice, scoring a goal late in the second period to put the Sabres on the board.
In the goal above, two things should jump out at you, and the first one is obvious: Peterka’s sheer speed gave him plenty of separation to face goaltender Hunter Shepard one-on-one. Shepard, one of the more intriguing goaltenders in the AHL, initially came up with the save. But Peterka put forth an incredible second effort to draw the Sabres to within one.
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This is the kind of effort you expect from a player slated to make a jump from Year 1 to Year 2, and though it’s only preseason, this is the opportune time for players like Peterka to raise eyebrows. Not that he didn’t do that last season, but following his performance at the 2023 IIHF Worlds, he organically raised expectations for himself.
The goal alone made Peterka one-for-one in that regard, but he also came back around in the shootout to help the Blue and Gold complete their comeback. In case you missed it, check out the goal below, and once again, you will witness the second-year winger’s incredible effort.
Overall, Peterka’s performance should give Buffalo Sabres fans everywhere hope that he will transfer his recent outings to the ice during the regular season. And better yet, Peterka and center Dylan Cozens gained sound experience playing alongside one another often last season, so don’t be surprised if and when their chemistry takes pressure off of that first line.
Peterka’s game can grow even more when 2024 rolls around with Jack Quinn’s inevitable return. Quinn will miss substantial time as he continues to rehab from his Achilles injury, but once he’s back on the ice and presumably on the second line, expect this trio to be even more effective.
(Statistics provided by NHL.com)