NOTEBOOK: WEBER SOLID IN FIRST GAME
Friday, 10.26.2007 / 10:27 PM ET / News
By Brian Wheeler - Sabres.com
Mike Weber had the practice transformation that every player donning a Rochester Americans sweater prays for on Thursday afternoon. He walked into the locker room an AHL defenseman and left as a member of the Buffalo Sabres.
Weber boarded a plane, flew to Sunrise and got his first taste of NHL action in Buffalo's 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.
Head coach Lindy Ruff didn't expect him to be a savior. Ruff just wanted the rookie to take some of the burden from the healthy veterans and not leave goaltender Ryan Miller compromising position.
Basically, the team just wanted an average performance with minimal mistakes.
Weber delivered by posting an even plus/minus rating, turning over the puck just once, delivering a pair of hits and taking just one penalty in 10:16 minutes of ice time.
"A lot of butterflies and a lot of excitement," said Weber. "Not so much nerves but just really excited to be given a chance and an opportunity to come up here and play."
Weber only penalty of the night came in a one-on-one match-up with one the Panthers offseason acquisitions.
In a footrace to the net with Radek Dvorak, Weber became entangled with the 11-year veteran and was immediately whistled for holding. Buffalo's penalty killed held with five minutes remaining in the second period and Weber exited two minutes later.
No harm done.
"They just said just keep it simple and play my game," said Weber. "I don't really have a lot of complicity to my game. I try to keep things simple and don't worry about the crowd."
Weber's infraction wasn't the only one that Buffalo navigated safely.
The Sabres penalty kill unit was outstanding against the Panthers. Facing the second best power play at home in the league, Buffalo held Florida scoreless in seven man-advantage situations. The Florida PP had never previously been held scoreless at home this season and was seven for 24 (29.2%) coming into the game.
Dmitri Kalinin's knee-to-knee collision with Rod Brind'Amour in Buffalo's 6-2 loss to Carolina on Wednesday night will keep the blueliner out of the lineup for much more than just this weekend. Kalinin strained his MCL on the play, a long term injury.
"Dmitri's injury is pretty severe," said head coach Lindy Ruff. "It looks like [he'll be out] at least a month."
Brandishing a fresh shiner, Paul Gaustad suited up Friday night against the Panthers. Not noteworthy on a normal night, but Gaustad was struck with a vicious, yet inadvertent, highstick in Carolina. His status was known after being assisted to the locker room by trainers and not returning to the contest. Tests later showed that no damage was sustained.
Andrej Sekera recorded his first NHL point with the only assist on Drew Stafford second goal of the season at 11:12 of the third.