In the Buffalo Sabres’ season opener against the New York Rangers on Thursday night, defenseman Rasmus Dahlin made headlines with a thunderous hip check on Rangers forward Filip Chytil.
The hit came early in the first period as Chytil entered the Sabres zone with speed. Dahlin timed the hip check perfectly, sending Chytil flying head over heels to the ice.
The crushing hit energized the home crowd but did little to spark the Sabres, who went on to lose the game 6-3.
While Dahlin’s check will likely be replayed for years to come, the focus after the game was on Buffalo’s inability to keep pace with the high-powered Rangers.
“It was a nice hit by Dahlin but we have to be better as a group,” said Sabres head coach Don Granato. “One play like that doesn’t make up for the lack of execution.”
Dahlin, the 23-year-old former first overall pick, recently signed an 8-year, $80 million contract extension to remain in Buffalo long term. Regarded as an elite two-way defenseman, Dahlin notched 73 points last season, the third most in franchise history by a defenseman.
While Dahlin is known more for his silky smooth skating and offensive instincts, the hip check shows he can still deliver a crushing blow when needed. Fans are hoping this is a sign of things to come as Dahlin continues to develop into one of the NHL’s top blueliners.
Some of the most memorable hip checks in NHL history have come from players like Rob Blake, Darius Kasparaitis, and Niklas Kronwall. Dahlin’s hit on Chytil will surely be added to that highlight reel of devastating old-school body checks.
The Sabres have a young, talented roster and are expected to contend for a playoff spot this season after missing the postseason for 11 straight years. While the loss to New York was disappointing, Dahlin showed he is ready to lead the charge in Buffalo’s quest to return to NHL relevance.