Sabres' Ristolainen enjoys seeing time with Dahlin

Rasmus Ristolainen feels like he's paying it forward

Paul Hamilton
February 07, 2019 - 8:55 pm

Photo: James Guillory - USA TODAY Sports


Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Rasmus Ristolainen was back playing with star rookie Rasmus Dahlin until the second period of Thursday’s game. They played some games together earlier in the season, but Phil Housley shook up the pairs against Minnesota and kept them through the first period against Carolina.

Dahlin is a special player and that isn’t lost on Ristolainen, “He’s a great player, young player, it’s always exciting to play with a younger guy so with him, the way he plays the game a lot of things happen out there and he’s going to be great."

With Dahlin being young and new to the league, he tries things that other haven’t seen. Ristolainen says sometimes that makes him difficult to play with, “I’m not sure if he’s the easiest to play with for the type of guy like myself, but I like playing with him and it’s good to try to get some chemistry, but if we talk about what’s easy to play with, when I was younger it was guys that had played 1,000 games in the league that have seen everything.

“They talk plays through to you so you just need to do what they say and I think that’s easy when I played with Josh Gorges. He talked all the time and he helped you so much out there.”

Now, Ristolainen takes that good advice from the veterans he played with and it’s his turn with Dahlin, “I just try to be there for him on and off the ice. I’m the guy for him, I try to help him make his game easy."

Buffalo came into the game three points out of a playoff spot. Ristolainen says that makes it fun to play hockey again. “It’s great to have an important game at this time of the year. It makes it more fun and more exciting.”

Considering the Sabres have been out of the race every season Ristolainen has played with the Sabres, he really enjoys coming to the rink now, “It’s been a lot more fun, especially earlier in the year when we were playing really well. We have had …tougher times lately, but it’s still fun because the game matters and we’re in the hunt still.”

If the Sabres never trade Ristolainen, I have the feeling those two will be paired quite a bit in years to come.

The first three games of this seven-game homestand have been totally unacceptable. All Housley talks to them about is tightening up defensively and they give up seven to Chicago, four to Minnesota and six to Carolina.

Almost every goal the Hurricanes scored was because players were left wide open in front of the net. Phil Housley said after the game that they have to be harder to play against, especially in front of their own net.

This is a playoff race and that's the type of effort he's getting in front of his net? They practice it, they see it on film, but they don't do it. It's plain and simple. You're home for seven games, trying to make the playoffs, and going 1-1-1 while giving up 17 goals in three games in totally unacceptable.

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