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Swedish Sabres embracing roles as hosts for Global Series games

Players skated for the first time in Sweden ahead of back-to-back games against Tampa Bay this weekend

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - When talking about being back home in Sweden, Rasmus Dahlin had the look of a kid in a candy shop.

With a big smile, he started to think about all the good things a trip to Sweden has to offer and everywhere he wants to take his teammates while the Buffalo Sabres are in Stockholm for the 2019 NHL Global Series.

In fact, the 19-year-old defenseman plans to actually be a kid in a candy shop this week. 

"They have a candy store here I have to show them and some other good restaurants around here," Dahlin said. "There's a bunch of stuff. I could talk about it all day."

Dahlin became the first Swedish-born player to be taken with the No. 1 overall pick in nearly 30 years when Buffalo selected him at the 2018 NHL Draft. The defenseman has been a big ambassador for Swedish hockey over the course of his young career and his enthusiasm seems to be rubbing off on the group. 

"I've never seen Ras so excited. It seemed like he had his bags packed in the car all day yesterday," captain Jack Eichel said. "He's ready to go. He was moving us along. He's really enjoying it. It's going to be an awesome experience for them."

The Sabres will play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday and Saturday for a pair of regular-season games at Ericsson Globe in Stockholm. 

The team took the ice for practice Monday afternoon for an up-tempo practice following a seven-hour overnight flight from Buffalo. They'll have an off day on Tuesday, where the players will have the chance to explore Stockholm.

"Just on multiple levels, Stockholm is a magical city," coach Ralph Krueger said. "The history, you'll feel it here, walking around, and in the Old Town or along the water, you can just feel the heartbeat of the Swedish people."

Six Swedish players are on the trip for Buffalo, including Dahlin, Marcus Johansson, Linus Ullmark, Johan Larsson, Victor Olofsson and Lawrence Pilut. 

"Everyone's excited, but it's special for the Swedes, obviously, to come back here," Johansson said. "It is a really cool experience to play in front of all your family and friends that might not get the opportunity to the U.S. to watch you play."

Johansson was one of the players who stepped up when it came to helping the non-Swedish players find things to do in Stockholm.

"He sent the whole team a nice, big spreadsheet so it helped us out," Eichel said.


Learning Swedish

Video: Sabres players try to find the ice rink in Swedish

Good news. They found the rink in time.

Depth for the trip

Video: AFTER PRACTICE: Krueger

The Sabres recalled Pilut from the Rochester Americans of the AHL on Sunday, and placed defenseman Marco Scandella on injured reserve. Scandella was injured during Buffalo's game at the New York Rangers on Oct. 24 and has missed the past three games. Krueger said Scandella was close to making the trip. 

Pilut will add depth to the blue line. He has a goal and five assists in eight AHL games this season. He had shoulder surgery in the offseason that delayed his 2019-20 debut.

"I think these last couple games down in Roc have been better by me and I'm starting to get to my level and I just want to frequently get that level up," Pilut said. 

Andrew Hammond is also on the trip as the emergency goaltender. 

The Sabres will return to practice on Wednesday and Thursday before the back-to-back set against the Lightning.

Friday's game is scheduled for 8 p.m. in Stockholm, which means it'll be a 2 p.m. puck drop back in Buffalo. The game will air live on NBCSN. Rick Jeanneret and Rob Ray will have the call on WGR 550. 

RJ and Rayzor will be broadcasting live on Friday from (716) Food and Sport. Stop down for a late llunch and reserve your table today:

Tweet from @716FoodandSport: Afternoon @BuffaloSabres hockey?The puck drops at 2pm next Friday, the 8th, from Stockholm, Sweden.Watch with us >

Saturday's game will air on MSG with the Buick Game Night pregame show kicking off at 12:30 p.m. Faceoff is at 1 on MSG and WGR 550.

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