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.
The Pittsburgh native played again in Saturday’s 6-1 loss to the Penguins inside the First Niagara Center.
“It was extremely tough,” Weber said Saturday morning about sitting out. “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.”
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 entering Saturday, was scratched with Andre Benoit.
“I kind of talked to the other coaches on the staff and stuff like that,” said Weber, who fought Steve Downie later. “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.”
The Sabres gave up 52 shots in Friday’s 3-2 loss to Edmonton, so Nolan sat Benoit and defenseman Andrej Meszaros, who he strongly criticized for a weak effort on the Oilers’ winning goal.
Tyson Strachan also played.
Nolan used one interesting defense pair, putting 2013 first-rounders Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov together.
After time expired Friday, Sabres center Tyler Ennis skated over to linesman Derek Nansen and tapped the official with his stick.
Nansen immediately gave Ennis a game misconduct.
Why did the normally mild-mannered Ennis touch an official?
“I was a little frustrated,” he said Saturday morning. “I just went to go talk to the linesman and tap him on the bum lightly. But I got his hand a little bit and he was a little upset, so I went and apologized after the game to him and the referees. I kind of just said I shouldn’t take my frustrations out on them, because they’re just doing their job.”
Ennis said the NHL hasn’t spoken to him. He doesn’t expect any further action. He said he didn’t curse at Nansen.
The league could have suspended Ennis for abuse of officials.
“We’re fragile sometimes and emotional things happen,” Nolan said. “Fortunately, it wasn’t too bad. It was just one of those learning things that we have to control our emotions at all time.”
Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby on the assumption 17-year-old phenom Connor McDavid’s presence will quickly transform a team into a contender next season: “Anyone who follows hockey knows it takes more than one guy. It doesn’t hurt to have a good piece like him to start it off, though, that’s for sure.”
The Penguins missed the playoffs in 2005-06, Crosby’s rookie season. McDavid’s the biggest junior prospect since Crosby.
Notes: Former Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff played his first game in Buffalo with the Penguins. The Sabres bought the German’s contact out in June. “The first game back is always a little strange and a little different feeling,” Ehrhoff said. … Sabres winger Marcus Foligno (shoulder) missed his fourth straight game. He said he could play Tuesday in St. Louis. … Sabres winger Patrick Kaleta, out since a puck hit him in the face Sept. 28, has settled on wearing a tinted visor with a jaw protector when he returns. The Angola native has been experiencing vision problems on the ice. He tested out several shields.
Update: The Sabres sent Johan Larsson back to Rochester today. The winger has zero points in four games.