SUN Hockey Pool

That's a hot, hot Hemsky

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

You have to have success to have success.

That may sound like one of those 'Duh' deals, but it's the truth.

Ales Hemsky has never had success in the NHL before. But he's having it now.

All of a sudden, overnight, he looks like he's finally going forward to his future.

This, of course, follows a front end of the season where he was invisible, so let's not get carried away here because he's suddenly become a standout.

But the fact is after scoring two goals in a 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets last night, he's on fire.

The 22-year-old, who for all the world looked like he'd turned the corner in terms of turning pro last year in the Czech Elite League playoffs and at the World Hockey Championships has scored three goals in his last two games.

He has eight points in three games. He's suddenly a point-per-game player. Thirteen games. Thirteen points.

The Edmonton Oiler faithful (perhaps the wrong word these days) have something to get excited about again.

"OK, he had a good year last year in the Czech Republic. He had an exceptional year last year. But that wasn't in this league. He's still a young player and he has to develop confidence in this league," said coach Craig MacTavish.

"When he got the two assists in Dallas, you could see the confidence start to grow. And it's grown exponentially in the two games since."

It won't be until the Oilers get back from their seven-game, longest road trip of the season, that fans can possibly begin to get back to the giddy state they were in when this season started.

FINAL PLAYOFF SPOT

Remember this year wasn't about being a team competing for the final playoff position but an outfit which could be a reach-for-the-top team. But at least, unlike their last get-away-day, the 7-1 debacle here against Colorado, there are positives. And Hemsky's No. 1.

"Hemmer is just making plays whenever he touches the puck. That's really welcome right now. He's playing with confidence offensively and the team is playing with confidence with him," said MacTavish.

Suddenly the goals are coming. Three straight games the Oilers have scored five goals in a game.

And while nobody is going to predict they'll keep coming during the seven-game trip, at least they're going into it with guys feeling like they can put the puck in the net.

Raffi Torres scored his eighth goal of the season last night - 13 fewer than he scored all last year with the Road Runners.

Ryan Smyth is back from injury and back-on-track as a point-per-game player. With a goal last night, Smyth now has four goals and four assists in seven games.

Shawn Horcoff is back from injury and is one point back of being a point-per-game player with 10 points in 11 games.

But it's Hemsky who was most responsible for getting Oilers fans excited again.

SOME CONSISTENCY

If the Hemsky we've been watching the last three nights is going to be the Hemsky we start to see consistently into the future, then there is a future, because a star point producer has been the missing link here.

"It's obvious out there. It's as plain as day. He's finding his confidence," says Horcoff.

Smyth and Horcoff have been big benefactors, or possibly partially responsible for it, since Hemsky was moved to their line for the win streak.

"We're feeding off the energy playing with him the way he's got it going now," said Horcoff. "Not just on the line. On the power play. With Ales clicking now, the power play is starting to work."

Hemsky doesn't have much to say on the subject of himself.

"I shoot more. I play better with the puck now. I'm two years older.

"I'm getting better every day. I'm getting more confidence. Hopefully it will keep going like this."

But last night he came right back from a high stick in the face to score his first. And that said something. "I'm not scared now. I'm not scared to do something."

That says a lot. Czech mate Radek Dvorak says now you see it.

"This is what everybody expected from him. If he keeps doing this, he can become a huge player for this hockey club and in this league."

As Hemsky goes, maybe someday soon, the Oilers will go. It'll be an interesting trip for the kid and the team.


Videos

Photos