Rasmus Dahlin of Sabers matures, responding to adversity in games


BUFFALO – Early in Friday’s 4-1 loss, Brad Marchand pressured Rasmus Dahlin from behind the net, forcing him to spit out the puck. A second later, the Bruins star knocked down the Sabers defenseman and fed teammate David Pastrnak for the game’s first goal.

Turnover was one of the few blunders Dahlin, 21, made during a difficult first period. But the Swede calmed down and ended up playing a top 25 minutes and 4 seconds against Boston.

A year or two ago, Dahlin’s early fights may have dragged him on all night.

“The first goal against him was not satisfied and he recalibrated himself, he returned to it immediately, and I felt that he had come close or that he had responded in the right way” Sabers coach Don Granato said on a Zoom In 2-1 call on Saturday. overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils.

These days, Granato said that Dahlin, who is known to put a lot of pressure on himself, “comes back to the present moment” after making a mistake.

“He’s not chasing this,” he said. “Even when I came here a few years ago, he would have kept this for a long time. He would have done it throughout the game. So he was able to let go, move forward and refocus.

“Again that’s a good sign of maturity and he’s maturing, like all of our young guys, every day with every situation. So I was happy to see that.

Despite his heavy workload on Friday, Granato played against Dahlin a record high of 25 minutes, 53 seconds against in New Jersey as the Sabers completed their first straight set. His Corsi For of 41.9% was his lowest this season.

In five outings leading up to Monday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at KeyBank Center, Dahlin had two assists, a plus-1 rating and a 53.6 percent Corsi For. Remember, last season he generated a horrific minus-36, the worst in the NHL.

Dahlin has skated for more than 25 minutes three times already, a total he has eclipsed just four times in 56 games last season.

Granato said that Dahlin, the top overall pick in 2018, has “an extremely high personal level.”

“All the outside expectations, he has high internal expectations, so a lot of times you deal with him so as not to bring them onto himself,” he said.

Sabers defenseman Will Butcher, who spent his first four NHL seasons with the Devils, played his first game as a visitor on Saturday at the Prudential Center.

“Matching up against Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, (Pavel) Zacha, the guys I came into the league with was definitely a little weird,” Butcher said. “A little surreal looking towards them, looking down and just wearing a different jersey.”

Remarks: The Sabers haven’t faced the Lightning since a 6-4 loss on Dec.31, 2019 in Buffalo. … The Devils were the first team to beat the Sabers (39-25) this season. … The Sabers had Sunday off.

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