Buffalo Sabres coach Ron Rolston benched his entire top line for the final 26 minutes and made veteran Ville Leino a healthy scratch for Friday’s dreary 6-2 loss in Anaheim.
When the team returned to practice Monday in First Niagara Center, the lines were pretty jumbled and newcomer Matt Moulson — who told The News Friday the benching was the most embarrassing moment of his NHL career — said he and Rolston had mended fences.
“I want to help this team win,” said Moulson, who joined Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis in getting nailed to the bench Friday. “I had a good talk with Coach today and we’re going to move on from that. In sports, you’ve got to put things behind you pretty quickly. Just get a mindset to come work today.”
“He’s a professional. He’ll be there,” Rolston said of Moulson. “He’s been there for us the whole time. We want to make sure everybody is accountable and that’s the only way we’re going to have success.”
Rolston wouldn’t delve into much detail about his reasons for his moves but he moved Ennis off the top line Monday and put Steve Ott with Moulson and Hodgson.
“We have to try to get some ‘heaviness’ on that top line,” Rolston said when asked about Ott.
“He wants to make sure we’re working,” Moulson said. “When you’re relied upon to produce in this league on a top line of any team, obviously you have to be the best line out there each game. Obviously the staff didn’t feel we were the last game. I didn’t think we were, and we’ll move on from there.”
Ennis was back at center Monday, between Leino and Drew Stafford. The third line had Marcus Foligno between Zemgus Girgensons and Brian Flynn while Cody McCormick was centering Mikhail Grigorenko and Corey Tropp.
Hodgson said he had not engaged Rolston in any follow-up on his benching.
“You want to play and you want to help the team and contribute but that stuff is up to the coach,” he said. “I did my best to encourage other guys.”
“He’s a top-line player for us and you can see what other top lines have done when they’ve come to this building or on the road,” Rolston said, referring to Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf and his seven points in two games against Buffalo. “Your best players have to be your best players. How was Getzlaf on the road? Those guys make plays and they make a difference.”
Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff will return to the lineup tonight against Los Angeles after missing Friday’s game with a lower-body injury. Fellow blueliner Mike Weber, who has been out since breaking a thumb Oct. 25 in Florida, ruled himself ready to go but Rolston said Weber would not play tonight and could be ready for the home-and-home set this weekend against Toronto.
Weber worked out in the arena last week with scout Dennis Miller while the team was in California.
“It’s kind of like coming back from the summer I guess,” Weber said. “It was pretty lonely in this locker room for the last week being the only one in here.”
When Weber is ready, the Sabres will have to open a roster spot because he is on injured reserve. The team could send Nikita Zadorov back to junior because he can play only two more games before his entry-level contract kicks in.
The Sabres announced Monday that beginning with tonight’s game, all fans entering First Niagara Center will be subject to a handheld magnetometer (wand) screening upon entry.
The wanding has been used on a limited and random basis since last season as part of gradual security enhancements. It is now being expanded to include all fans to comply with league-wide policies for all teams in the NHL.
In honor of Veterans Day, Sabres players will be wearing camouflage jerseys during pregame warm-ups tonight and the jerseys will then be put up for auction on the NHL.com auction site immediately following the game. The auction runs through Nov. 20 and proceeds benefit the Sabres Foundation.
Former Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold won’t be in the St. Louis lineup when the Blues play here Nov. 19 because he is going to need surgery to repair ligament and tendon damage in his right hand. Leopold was injured Thursday Calgary and will miss at least eight weeks.
Leopold has two assists in 13 games this season while averaging nearly 16 minutes of ice time per game. He was acquired from the Sabres at the trade deadline last season for a second- and fifth-round pick.
The Sabres used the second-round pick in June to take Williamsville native Justin Bailey, who is playing for the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL.