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by Kevin Snow / Buffalo Sabres

Mike Weber returns to the ice tonight, replacing Marc-Andre Gragnani in the Sabres lineup when they host the Philadelphia Flyers at First Niagara Center (7:30 p.m., Versus). It will be the first game action of the season for Weber who has been a healthy scratch in Buffalo’s first 10 contests.

“I’m not too nervous,” says Weber about getting back in the lineup. “I did play 58 of them last year. I’m just excited to get going and start my season."

Weber had 17 points (4+13) in 58 games for the Sabres in 2010-11, and led the team in hits with 158. He skated almost 17 minutes a game, and finished second on the team with a plus-13 rating. Weber’s minutes increased as the season wore on, including a three-game stretch in late March when he averaged almost 24 minutes a night.

This all came after he sat out Buffalo’s first nine games of last season. Having gone through it before, Weber said it helped him deal with being in the press box for the first 10 games of this season.

“It didn’t kill me. It’s kind of a character builder when you sit out, mentally and physically. Having to do all the extra work, and mentally dealing with being out of the lineup. I think it’s made me a stronger person, and a stronger player. I want to take full advantage of it.”

While head coach Lindy Ruff believes that Weber’s style is perfectly suited for tonight’s opponent, there was a more underlying reason to get him into this game.

“The bottom line is I need him to play, before he gets so frustrated that we lose him,” said Ruff. “And that’s the bottom line. He’s worked hard. A player gets to a point where you have to get him in.

“He was an important part of our team (last year). He played good minutes, and he played hard. They’ve got some players we’d like to play hard against, so this game is a good fit for him.”

Ryan Miller is expected to get the start in net for Buffalo. Tyler Ennis remains out week-to-week with an ankle sprain, and Jochen Hecht is out indefinitely with post-concussion symptoms .... The Flyers will be without former Sabre Danny Briere who is nursing an upper body injury. Chris Pronger (eye) and Matt Read (upper body) are also on the mend for Philadelphia.

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