Cozens, Krebs and how they've earned their ice time
Despite their young age, Dylan Cozens and Peyton Krebs are earning bigger assignments thanks to attention to detail and dedication on defense.
When young players reach the NHL, the number of adjustments they have to make going from one level to the next are numerous, but the biggest one for them, at least on the ice, comes from playing defense at the level needed to be in the best league in the world.
When it’s written that way it might sound histrionic, but the truth can be dramatic like that. Whether a player is coming from junior hockey or college or even up from the American Hockey League, the increased difficulty is no joke. Honing and perfecting the defensive side of the game can take years and for a lot of players it just never improves enough to earn them more ice time. After all, no coach will put out a player whose offense won’t exceed what they give up on the other end.
For the Buffalo Sabres and the host of young players that have earned spots in the NHL this season it means a season filled with on-the-job learning when it comes to zone coverage, forechecking and backchecking, and marking opponents. And while it’s important for all young players to make their defensive game stronger, it’s vital for the men in the middle.
Centers have more defensive responsibilities than wingers and young centers getting thrown into the deep seas of the NHL and needing to be more than mindful of the best scorers in the world can be overwhelming. Learning what you can, can’t, and shouldn’t do is all part of the process.
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