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Cozens vows Sabres won't be intimidated: 'We're not scared of anyone'

Nicole Osborne / National Hockey League / Getty

Dylan Cozens has sent a strong message to 31 other NHL teams ahead of the 2023-24 season: The Buffalo Sabres won't be pushed around.

"We're a young team and guys are going to try and take advantage of that, thinking we're soft or whatever, that we're not gonna fight back," the forward said Monday, according to the Buffalo News' Mike Harrington. "We know we have to show that we're not going to get bullied, and we stick up for each other.

"We're not scared of anyone, and we'll do whatever it takes to defend each other."

Cozens offered a preview of his philosophy during a preseason game Saturday after Columbus Blue Jackets forward Dmitri Voronkov knocked down rookie goaltender Devon Levi. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Cozens immediately rushed in to defend his netminder.

Although Cozens admitted Monday that he didn't see what happened, he said he got involved after seeing Levi on the ice and hearing the KeyBank Center crowd going "nuts."

Sabres head coach Don Granato was a big fan of the "ultra-competitive" 22-year-old's feistiness.

"I love the emotion. ... We want to learn how to control our emotion, but we want to play with it," Granato said after practice Monday. "I thought that was more than appropriate to elevate emotionally where he did. I'm OK with him, he's going to ride a line, and I'm OK with him riding the edge."

He continued: "We need our team to play with that, and I think Dylan is a leader in that regard. ... Combine that with the skill he has, we know that's a major asset within our organization."

Cozens, who's entering his fourth NHL campaign, recorded a career-high 31 goals and 68 points in 81 games in 2022-23.

The Sabres are looking to snap a 12-season playoff drought in 2023-24 after missing the postseason by just one point last campaign.

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