BY LOUIE GENOVESE, SPORTS STAFFER
BUFFALO, NY, (10-21-2022) – Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin made NHL history Thursday night with a power play goal over the 3-0 Calgary Flames, becoming the first defenseman in league history to open the season with a four game goal streak.
The goal came early in the first period after the Flames jumped to an early 1-0 lead. Afterwards, the team went on to win the game 6-3 with Alex Tuch scoring his first career hat trick. For Dahlin, this only complemented his amazing start to the 2022-2023 season as he said after the game.
“It’s crazy,” the 22-year-old Dahlin said. “I don’t know what to say really. It’s pretty crazy to think about it. There’s 78 games left. I’ve got more job to do.”
The 22-year-old defenseman from Sweden is having one of the best starts of his career, recording a total of six points. Back then, a lot of Sabres fans we’re skeptical if he can become the elite defenseman they expected when they drafted him in 2018.
Sabres head coach Don Granato said after the Calgary game Dahlin’s hot start is a sign of him evolving into a franchise player and not something unexpected.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be surprised with what Dahlin does; he competes so well,” Granato said. “He works in between games, he’ll be hard at work tomorrow morning. He always keeps himself ready to take advantage of any opportunity he can.”
Tuch said the best has yet to come for Dahlin as they only played four games and got bigger opponents and opportunities ahead of them.
“He’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever played with, said Tuch. “I dont think he’s come close to being the player he’s going to be.”
Even Flames head coach Darry Sutter gave praise to Dahlin for handing his team their first loss of the season.
“Pretty Dominant Player for them,” he said. “Probably the best player on the ice.”
In the Sabres first four games, Dahlin built off his 2021-2022 season, which saw him record career highs in goals, points, hits and blocks. Last season also saw him being named to his first NHL All-Star apperance and even an alternate team captain.
Before then, the defenseman out of Sweden failed to live up to the promise he showed in his rookie season, which saw him being named for the Calder Cup and earning praise from veterans like Erik Karlsson. However, most fans believed it was due to the poor system established by then head coach Ralph Kruger.
The Kruger era, which went from 2019 to 2021, saw Dahlin record the worst stats of his career. In the shortened 2020 season, he finished last in the league in plus/minus rating with -36. He allowed embarrassing goals, allowed turnovers and struggled to play physical hockey.
Since Granato took over, Dahlin started a resurgence and got a lot of support from fellow defenseman Henri Jokihariu, Mattais Samuelson and Owen Power. He does better in providing opportunities for his teammates and consistency on the blue line.
The Sabres next face the 0-3-2 Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Saturday Oct. 22 for the third game of their road trip out west. Hopefully Dahlin can continue his improvement and build a foundation for a team looking to have a bright future in the 2020’s.