Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Smyth can thank Rick Tocchet, a stout knee brace and good luck he wasn't badly injured by John-Michael Liles of the Colorado Avalanche in Denver Monday.
Smyth, who limped off the ice in the final 30 seconds of a 2-1 win over the Avs when he was kneed by Liles, escaped with the bruised left thigh and is probable for tonight's game against the St. Louis Blues after skating a full practice at Rexall Place yesterday.
Smyth, 30, took the brunt of the blow from Liles on the top cross-member of a knee brace he's been wearing since sustaining a badly sprained MCL on a hit by Tocchet eight seasons ago.
"If it wasn't for my brace, I don't think I'd be standing here right now," Smyth said. "I can't play the game without a knee brace and it helped me out that last game."
Skating on a line with Shawn Horcoff and Fernando Pisani at practice, Smyth didn't look hobbled, although he'll have a degree of soreness in the thigh for several days. He'll be fitted with extra padding to protect the area.
"Ryan looked fine today," coach Craig MacTavish said after practice. "He's tough to keep out of the line-up at the worst of times and this doesn't look like the worst of times. We're thankful it isn't any more serious. It looks like he's going to be OK."