Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – If there’s one thing you need to know about Rasmus Dahlin, he’s as authentic as they come.
Dahlin wears his emotions on his sleeve, and he’s been so taken about the fans coming back to cheer the team on, he felt compelled to speak to them with a letter.
Dahlin talked about meeting Ryan Miller in Vancouver and that he knew Miller was important in Western New York, but he had no idea until the night Miller was honored having his No. 30 hoisted to the rafters.
“The connection he shares with the people in this city is something you have to feel to understand,” wrote Dahlin on Tuesday. “We were all in awe watching his ceremony from the bench, seeing the mutual love shared between him and the crowd.
“Now when I see Ryan Miller, I’m star-struck.”
Dahlin feels writing to the fans was important to him.
“I wanted to show my appreciation to the fans, and I want to let them know how much we love them and how much we need them,” said Dahlin on Wednesday following Buffalo's morning skate.
Dahlin really enjoyed Miller, but he said it was also after the game talking to players like Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville and others that stuck with him.
“I had a long chat with pretty much everyone," Dahlin said. "I met with [Henrik] Tallinder, so that was great too. They were telling me all about the city and how crazy it was, so I just want to do the same thing they did.”
If you remember back to the two great playoff runs by those teams, there were over 10,000 people out watching the game in Alumni Plaza, plus thousands more at the ballpark. You should’ve seen Dahlin’s eyes light up when I mentioned it to him.
“They told me all about it," he said. "You just see what the Bills are going through now and what they’ve been telling me, and what you just told me, I can’t really believe that. So I really want to play good so I can experience that too.
“I know this city is all about their sports teams, and I want to be a part of it.”
When head coach Don Granato found out about the letter and read it, he says was touched.
“That letter was awesome when I read it, personally," said Granato following Wednesday's morning skate. "There’s a lot behind it, because I’ve seen his love for hockey, for his teammates and for Buffalo. The most important thing is this is a player that’s authentic. There is nothing manufactured when I read it. That is authentic Rasmus Dahlin.
“The most impactful thing, for me, was this is Rasmus Dahlin, and that was even more powerful than the message because what a special guy this is.”
The Sabres play their final game before the All-Star break and their bye week on Wednesday with the Carolina Hurricanes in town. The Hurricanes are riding a six-game win streak, as well as a nine-game point streak.
Carolina overcame a 4-1 third period deficit on Tuesday night to beat the Los Angeles Kings in overtime, 5-4.
The Canes will be playing their third game in four nights, and probably didn’t get to their hotel room until close to 3 a.m. EST. Granato says that will not even enter his mind when formulating the game plan.
“All of that is only good if they were actually tired and we won the game. It doesn’t matter. You’d better be ready to play the game of hockey," he said. "It could be the 32nd place team in the league to come in here, and they will beat you if you’re not ready to play. It’s useless to start thinking about those elements going into a game.”
Carolina is 6-0-1 this season in the second game of back-to-back games.
Freddie Andersen played Tuesday night in goal for Carolina, and has played five out of six games. When Carolina hosted the Sabres on Nov. 4, they won 5-3 in Raleigh. Antti Raanta was in goal that night, and has gone 12-2-3 this season with a 2.55 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage.
Sebastian Aho had three goals and an assist in that game. He has 22 goals and 23 assists for 45 points in 43 games this year.
The Hurricanes' leading scorer this season is Martin Necas, who has 21 goals and 25 assists for 46 points in 50 games. Necas had three points in that November win over Buffalo.
Carolina has won 13 of the last 14 games against the Sabres.
Buffalo is coming off a 3-0-1 road trip, and has points in seven-straight games.
The NHL’s Rookie of the Month for January will be in net for Buffalo. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is 13-5-2 this season with a 3.26 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage. Luukkonen is 3-0-1 in his last four games, and 10-2-1 in his last 13 starts.
Granato also says Tage Thompson, Mattias Samuelsson and Dylan Cozens are all ready to play for the Sabres on Wednesday.
Join Schopp and the Bulldog for this radio only game, starting with pregame coverage on WGR at 6:30 p.m. EST when they'll be joined by Granato, Thompson and Jeff Skinner.