Sabres' Dahlin gave the fans everything they were looking for

Other young players are making an impression

Paul Hamilton
September 08, 2018 - 11:44 am

Photo: Buffalo Sabres - Bill Wippert


Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - As the Sabres prepare to meet the Bruins on Saturday in front of a sellout crowd, the overflow crowd for the opening game on Friday got quite a treat. The shiny new toy the fans have been anticipating was on full display as well as some of his other talented teammates.

On the first shift of the game, Rasmus Dahlin skated up the left wing like he was shot out of a cannon and just missed scoring a goal. Dahlin was every bit as advertised netting two goals and an assist. Dahlin said he was pumped up to play in front of all those Buffalo fans, “I was excited for the game and of course it was fun to play in front of all the fans, they were loud and I couldn’t be happier.”

Dahlin really enjoyed Development Camp when many fans came out to see him. He said, “I’m not surprised anymore, they’re huge and they are great, they’re amazing.”

Dahlin is only 18, but he’s fearless in his approach. He was up-ice a lot which was in evidence on his second goal. Dahlin was being pressed in the neutral zone, but still made a perfect pass through a tight space to former R.I.T. standout Myles Powell. Powell ripped a shot from the right circle, but only one man on the ice anticipated what would happen. Dahlin kept going and the juicy rebound was right on his stick with an open net staring him in the face. Needless to say, the fans went wild. Dahlin said taking calculated chances is the way to play, “It’s a smart way when the D join the rush, no one really thinks it’s going to happen, so I feel it’s a smart way.”

Dahlin’s first goal was a shot/pass in front to Kevin Hancock, but it hit the Devils defenseman’s skate and went in.

The best part of Dahlin’s game is his passing, he’ll look one way and pass the other. It’s a blind pass that covers two lines and is right on the tape. He made a nice play in the defensive zone and swept the puck up to Tage Thompson who scored on a shorthanded breakaway.

Hitting? No problem. Dahlin’s partner Will Borgen had many of the Devils afraid to go near him as they were looking over their shoulders. Borgen hit everything that moved and Dahlin wanted to get into the act stepping into a Devil at center ice.

It wasn’t just Dahlin. I thought the other Rasmus, Asplund, was Buffalo’s second best player of the night. He shows so much grit and desire at both ends of the ice. He noticed how casual the Devils were being on a power play and went to work. He out-competed two guys for the puck and found Alex Nylander alone in front. Nylander put a slick move on for the goal.

That brings me to the winger. He would’ve been my third star. Chris Taylor has been raving about him for two days and Nylander answered the bell. He was engaged at both ends of the ice. He was winning battles, especially on the penalty kill. Putting Nylander out to kill penalties would not have been an option in his first two seasons. He said being put in that situation really gave him confidence, “It’s huge, I’m getting the ice-time and it feels real good out there and everybody did a really good job, so I want to keep it up in the next game.”

Nylander has played with Asplund for Team Sweden and the chemistry showed on Friday. He said he likes being on a line with him, “We played a little together in the World Juniors and we had good chemistry, so of course I want to play with him.”

Nylander was injured during Development Camp and couldn’t skate. His training the past two summers hasn’t worked, so Jason Botterill sent rehab development coach Dennis Miller to Sweden to work with him. The past few seasons injured players work with Miller before they get back to practice. He does a terrific job getting them ready so when they get back to practice, they’re pretty much ready to play. Nylander said, “I try to do the same thing every summer, but this year I had a different summer because of my groin, I had to rehab that a little bit and now everything is really good and I feel 100-percent.”

Other players that caught my eye were Victor Olofsson, Andrew Oglevie, Thompson, Powell and Borgen. When Borgen makes the big club, fans are going to love his style. He thrives on contact and never stops making players pay. When he was on the ice, New Jersey players were looking over the shoulders to see where he was. He also does a good job on his breakouts and his battles.

The morning skate told me that Brendan Guhle will play tonight along with Arvin Atwal, Shane Eiserman, Vasily Glotiv and Judd Peterson. Scratched will be Powell, Pascal Aquin, Hancock, Nick Welsh and Brandon Hickey. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen will be in net.

Join me, Brian Koziol and Brayton Wilson for all the action starting at 7:00 on WGR Sports Radio 550.

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