BUFFALO – Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin was so excited to practice with his teammates today he said he woke up at 6:30 this morning.
“I was nervous, it felt like Christmas,” said an upbeat Dahlin, who has missed the last seven games after suffering a concussion Nov. 25. “Good to be back. I was really happy to skate with the boys today.”
Dahlin, 19, hasn’t played since Tampa Bay Lighting defenseman Erik Cernak elbowed him in the face. Sitting out has been a new experience for Dahlin, who had never missed an NHL game prior to the hit. He has never been sidelined so long.
The Swede, of course, is getting antsy.
“He’s been bouncing off the walls at home,” said Sabres center Casey Mittelstadt, Dahlin’s roommate.
Dahlin won’t play tonight against the St. Louis Blues at KeyBank Center. Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said the youngster hasn’t been cleared.
“He hasn’t passed the necessary tests yet, so he’s non-contact in practice right now, so as it is with these type of injuries it’s day-to-day still,” he said. “At least it’s good to see him with the group today.”
Dahlin, who has been skating a couple days, said he has “no clue” if he can return this week. The Sabres also play Thursday and Saturday afternoon.
The former first overall pick said Cernak, who received a two-game suspension, texted him following the hit and said he did not mean to hurt him.
“I just texted back, ‘It’s hockey,’” Dahlin said. “Stuff like that happens on the ice all the time. It’s fine.”
Dahlin has compiled one goal and 16 points in 24 games this season.
In lineup news, fresh off Sunday’s 3-2 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers, the Sabres will make two changes against the Stanley Cup champions.
Mittelstadt, a healthy scratch last game, will return, most likely in place of winger Conor Sheary. Meanwhile, defenseman Jake McCabe, who also sat out Sunday, will probably replace Marco Scandella.
“We’re going to make the final call on the lineup tonight,” Krueger said.
Mittelstadt, who had been playing wing, centered Jeff Skinner and Evan Rodrigues this morning.
Goalie Linus Ullmark will start, his ninth nod in the last 12 games.
Check back later for more on Mittelstadt.