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“Dear Buffalo” – Dahlin on Miller, playoffs contention, growing up and more

Rasmus Dahlin would like you to know that he and his Buffalo Sabres teammates are starting to feel it.

And when he says it, he means this ephemeral sense of goodwill, hope, passion, pride, buffalo wings, and a hundred other elements that make Buffalo and Western New York what it is.

In an essay on the Sabres website, Dahlin talks about how he’s always known Ryan Miller as a great goaltender for Buffalo, never quite realized how close that relationship and how strong that bond was until he returned recently for the number retirement ceremony.

The connection he shares with the people in this city is something you have to feel to understand. We were all in awe watching his ceremony from the bench, seeing the mutual love shared between him and the crowd. It was RJ Night all over again.

Now when I see Ryan Miller, I am star-struck.

We spent time after the game talking to Ryan and the other alumni who were there that night. They spoke about how it felt like there was nothing separating the ice from the stands during their playoff runs. The players and the fans were one, all working toward the same goal.

The Sabres haven’t had the best record at home and have won more games on the road, but there is no doubt when both the players and fans are feeding off each other, things get raised to a playoff level.

Dahlin went on to mention the feeling of playing at Keybank Center when it’s packed to the rafters and the crowd are getting into it, and the impact that has on the players.

I speak for myself and my teammates when I say this: Buffalo, we are starting to feel it.

It’s hard to describe what it feels like when KeyBank Center is full. I get chills thinking about the roar of the crowd every time we have a scoring chance. Or a big hit. Or a successful penalty kill. Honestly, the whole night feels like a power play.

It’s like we are 19,090 strong – 20 of us in uniform, the rest of us in the stands. Together we are going to break the other team mentally. That’s what it feels like.

There are quite a few parallels with the core of the team that won the President’s Trophy nearly two decades ago, and a big part of is how the players grew up and matured together in front of us. He talks about how the Buffalo Bills recent success is driving them to be better too.

So, when someone who means so much to this community is being honored, or when our city is recovering from a storm, you should know we take it personally. We know we have a chance to send every person home with a memory they will never forget. How could we not give our best?

Those are the nights we have dreamt of these past two years. Tommer, Mittsy, Cozey, Joki, Sammy, Brys, Aspy, Vic – so many of us have grown up here. We’ve gone to Bills games together and talked about creating a similar atmosphere downtown. It’s so rewarding to see it happening.

The Sabres as of Tuesday noon are a point out of the last playoff spot (Penguins), but also have three games in hand over the Capitals who sit two points ahead of them. With 33 games left to play, that’s a long time to reel even one of those two teams in and strengthen their playoff credentials at least a full year ahead of time.

Now we’re almost at the All-Star break, and we’re in the race. We all know where we are in the standings and what these games mean. But the only way we can reach our goal is by keeping the same mindset. Just keep getting better, one day at a time. Earn it.

We’ll see where it takes us, but we are excited to be on this journey together. I am so proud to play here – to call the guys in this room my brothers, and to call this city home.

The letter to the fans was very well-timed by the Sabres and does a good job stoking up the love for the team just as the football playoffs end for the Bills and we’re about to go into the NHL All Star break.