BUFFALO, N.Y. – Zac Dalpe is engaged and hasn’t set a wedding date yet, but when the Wild center does, Boston Bruins forward Tim Schaller will have an invitation in the mail.
Yet, there Dalpe was Tuesday night throwing haymakers at his buddy a few minutes into the Wild’s eventual win.
What gave? Dalpe and Schaller, each trying to make an impression on their new coaches, were trying to fire up their individual teams. Dalpe nonchalantly skated by and next thing you knew, the gloves were dropped and punches were thrown by the former teammates in the Buffalo organization.
It was Dalpe’s first NHL fight after only four in the AHL, so fighting is not exactly his MO.
“I never would have thought [my first one] would be against him,” Dalpe said. “Nonetheless, you kind of get your feet wet so to speak. It’s weird fighting a friend of yours, that’s for sure.”
Dalpe, 26, who scored a beautiful tying goal against Toronto last week, played 21 games for the Sabres two years ago. He grew up 90 minutes away in Paris, Ontario, and says the Sabres are actually more nostalgic for him than the Maple Leafs because he grew up going to Buffalo games.
“It’s cool coming back here,” said Dalpe, whose stall in the visitors’ dressing room was the same one he had a few training camps ago.
Coach Bruce Boudreau respects Dalpe wholeheartedly, although it’s still likely he’ll be an up-and-down forward this season. In fact, with Erik Haula close to returning from a foot injury, Dalpe could be reassigned soon if the Wild wants to avoid having to put him on waivers. He cleared waivers earlier this month, and players require waivers again after 10 games or 30 days.
“He plays hard,” Boudreau said. “He’s doing everything he can to stay in the NHL. I think he’s doing a real good job.”
On the Hudson
Apple Valley’s Hudson Fasching, who played seven games for the Sabres after leaving the University of Minnesota after his third year last spring, played the Wild for the first time.
“I grew up watching all these guys,” said Fasching, 21. “It’s weird. A different perspective, for sure.”
As long as Fasching stays on the Sabres’ roster until Tuesday, there’s a chance he’ll play his first game in St. Paul on Tuesday.
“That’s something I’ve been looking forward to,” said Fasching, who’s skating on Buffalo’s fourth line with Derek Grant and Nicolas Deslauriers.
Sabres coach Dan Bylsma loved Fasching’s game in Philadelphia on Tuesday. He had six hits and drew a penalty that led to a goal.
“He’s going to be a real good forward in this league,” Bylsma said. “He’s going to be a power forward guy, great puck protection, great around the nets, big-bodied guy, and that’s where he’s growing, too.”
After Dalpe’s boarding penalty against the Bruins, Boudreau put Chris Stewart on his line in case Boston sought retribution.
“Everybody wants a big brother. They want to feel safe,” Boudreau said. “Stewy makes them feel safe. That’s good. I think that’s something we need.”
With Boudreau looking for a lefty-righty point combination on both power-play units with Jared Spurgeon sidelined, winger Jason Pominville returned to his longtime role there Thursday.
“He’s a jack of all trades,” Boudreau said of the former Sabres captain. “He kills penalties. … I put him in on the third, fourth or second line. He’s a guy that has experience that takes whatever assignment he has very seriously and he does a good job with it.”
• Spurgeon (upper body) skated again Thursday. If all goes well in practice Friday, a Saturday return against Dallas is possible, Boudreau said, especially because Marco Scandella was injured in Thursday’s game.
• The Sabres’ eye in the sky Thursday was new assistant coach Tom Ward, the longtime Shattuck-St. Mary’s coach.