BUFFALO – Following an embarrassing 5-0 loss one week ago in Pittsburgh, defenseman Mike Weber passionately called for more anger and intensity from the reeling Sabres.
The gritty Weber sat out the next night, the first of three straight healthy scratches. The 26-year-old, an emotional presence, hadn’t missed a game since Dec. 10.
“It was extremely tough,” Weber said this morning inside the First Niagara Center. “So I still don’t really understand what was going on there. It is what it is. I’m a professional. I come to work ready to work.”
The Pittsburgh native will return tonight against the Penguins.
“You’re going to get the same old Mike Weber out there tonight,” he said.
Weber said he hasn’t discussed his benching with Sabres coach Ted Nolan. Clearly, the Sabres had to change their lineup after that blowout loss to the Penguins. Weber, a minus-6 this season, was scratched with Andre Benoit.
“I kind of talked to the other coaches on the staff and stuff like that,” Weber said. “From what I gather, it was just a change to change stuff up. That’s all I know.”
Weber has been getting scratched for years, sometimes for weeks straight. He often sits out early in the season before earning regular duty. In the past, Weber said, he tried to change.
“I was still young,” he said. “I was still trying to discover what it was (former coach) Lindy (Ruff) wanted at the time, what I needed to do be in the lineup consistently. Over all the years, I always kind of started in the press box and worked my way into a consistent role with this team and just doing my job, being hard to play against, killing penalties and blocking shots – things like that.
“I’ve always tried to be a piece of the team we don’t have. So that’s kind of true now.”
He added: “I come here ready to work every day. That’s what I do, that’s what got me here, and that’s what’s going to keep me here.”
Nolan believes “there’s a difference between guys that play with a lot of emotion and guys who don’t play with too much emotion.” Too much emotion will make players try too hard.
“Sometimes when you try too hard, you make more mistakes than you do when you don’t even try,” Nolan said. “Mike’s one of those guys, you just have to sit back a little bit and play within his skill set, not to try to go out of that box. If he does that, he’s a very effective player for us.”