SUN Hockey Pool

Hemsky spurring linemates

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

It didn't take long to see the difference Ales Hemsky makes.

In two games since returning from a bruised knee, Hemsky has four points, linemate Shawn Horcoff has four points and the Edmonton Oilers, who won both games, picked up four points.

"He's a playmaker. He makes the plays," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "He's invaluable to us. It's a whole synergy thing (with the first line). It's an exponential improvement by having another guy back. You get that player back and everybody else is better."

Dustin Penner couldn't agree more.

"He fills a void there," said Penner, who upped his point total to 26 with a two-point effort against the Isles.

"And he makes the line complete."

"It's a comfort level," adds Horcoff. "We've played together so much that we know where we're going to be on the ice. I know his tendencies, what he likes to do, where he feels comfortable. You ask any player in the league who has chemistry with somebody, it's hard to come by, it takes time."

It's nice to have it, though, especially with a player can freeze every opponent on the ice.

"Players with his playmaking ability are few and far between," said Horcoff. "He's magical with the puck. If you find the openings, he's going to find you. He has so much patience out there."

GREENE GETTING CLOSER

Defenceman Matt Greene, the next guy up on the Get Well Soon list, is inching closer to a return date after skating for the first time this week.

"It was a little sore, but it's good to get back out and do something different than ride the bike," said Greene, who snapped his fibula in an awkward, ugly landing Oct. 30 against Detroit.

"I felt better (Tuesday) than it did (Monday), so hopefully it keeps going like that."

The Oilers pan to bring him along on their upcoming five-game swing through the Southeast Division, then playing it by ear.

"Either just before the (Jan 27) All Star break or just after it," he coach Craig MacTavish said of a possible return date. "He'll likely be ready to practice with us when we go on the road (next Wednesday), barring any setbacks."

Greene's been fitted for a new boot to accommodate the swelling - from the pins and plate in his ankle.

"My foot is a little fatter, I think it'll be like that for about six months."


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