The Sabres have two young players that have never played this much hockey

Rasmus Dahlin and Casey Mittelstadt are learning on the fly

Paul Hamilton
February 17, 2019 - 8:06 pm

Photo: Jerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports


Newark, NJ (WGR 550) - We’ve hit game No. 58 in the NHL season, which is something new for Rasmus Dahlin and Casey Mittelstadt. This is where the grind of the NHL can get to young players. Phil Housley said it can be tough on youngsters, “I just think the day-to-day grind, just handling that and handling a lot of games in a short period of time."

Dahlin studies the game. He watches a lot video and Housley said he has good responses, “I really like the way he comes back whether it’s good or bad if he makes mistakes he learns from it and continues to try to play his game which is sometimes hard to do as a defenseman.

“It’s amazing because he’s a student of the game, he really wants to learn and he accepts any criticism very well.

“It’s almost like he sees the play and watches the video and he has an answer for you already. He understands the game, it’s just learning the characteristic of other players and that’s going to take some time.”

Dahlin doesn’t seem at all phased by the long NHL season. He said, “It’s a tough process, but I feel like I can handle it good, but I have to work through stuff too. It’s going better than I thought and it’s been good.”

Dahlin has been on his own while playing in Sweden, but not in a different country. He said there were a few things he needed to learn, “Now I really understand how important it is to eat well and to sleep well to be the best you can every game.”

I asked if his menu has changed much and he said no, “Not differently, just more healthy stuff.”

The Sabres have a chef that serves meals to the players. Dahlin says he uses the chef, but he cooks too, “Both, but the chef is unbelievable here so we take to-go boxes, so he’s awesome.

“I’ve lived on my own for three years, so I kind of know how to cook a little bit, so I know the easy things.”

Casey Mittelstadt lives with Dahlin and Tage Thompson. He said, “The biggest thing is we’re lucky to get food at the rink. For an 18 to 20 year-old to go home and cook every meal is probably not our thing, so it’s been good to have something at the rink to take home for dinner with a lot of guys helping us out. Eichs lives right next door and he’s got a chef and everything so he gives us some food from that Rhino and Skinny, everyone lives around there and helps us out.”

Mittelstadt thinks road trips can be challenging too. Finding healthier things to eat out is important too and you go on the road as well and you’ve got to figure out healthy things even if you’re not in a great spot, so that’s been the biggest thing we’ve learned.”

Unlike Dahlin, Mittelstadt has not been a good eater all his life. He said he was way out of shape as a kid, “I had my days when I was way younger. I probably starting getting into eating healthier around my junior year in high school, I was pretty fat, no, I was really fat before then so that’s when I started getting into it.”

Dahlin said he really didn’t need to learn a lot about nutrition this season because of where he came from, “People from Sweden are pretty healthy people so I know what’s good and bad, but they help me with how much I need to eat and stuff like that.”

Dahlin said there’s more fast food here in the United States. He said that’s not as popular in Sweden.

Dahlin has always trained a lot in the offseason. He said he knows he has to get stronger, but he can’t do it now, “Yes, it’s so many games you can’t workout as much as I did last year, so there’s a difference, but it’s good.”

We are into the dogdays of the NHL season, but Mittelstadt doesn’t see it that way, “Actually no, I’m enjoying it. It’s been fun, I’ve never gotten to play this many games in one year.”

Housley has noticed the extra that Mittelstadt has given him, “Casey’s done a good job of getting some extra work for his fitness and Dahlin with watching video and trying to learn from his mistakes so they don’t happen again and then off the ice they’ve done a good job, they live together and take care of each other and they hold each other accountable when they’re away from the rink.”

Mittelstadt returned to play in New Jersey after missing two games due to injury.

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