SUN Hockey Pool

Woozy Oilers recovering

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Ales Hemsky and then Marc Pouliot can both recall the license numbers of the trucks that hit them.

What they don't know is how long it will take the tire tracks Jordin Tootoo and Nick Foligno left on them to heal.

Both players were knocked from the lineup with concussions, just one game apart, in the exact same place on the ice, courtesy of punishing hits from Nos. 22 and 71.

Nashville's Tootoo got Hemsky last Sunday - the Oilers haven't won since - and Ottawa's Foligno got Pouliot on Tuesday.

Neither player expects to be in the lineup tonight when the Oilers host Dallas.

"The main concern during the game was my nose," said Hemsky, who finished the Nashville game after Tootoo crushed him three minutes into the first period. "I couldn't breathe and I couldn't stop the bleeding. That's maybe why I didn't consider the headache. I felt a little slower, but I finished the game."

When he got home, he realized it was more than just a bloody nose.

"I didn't sleep all night and had lots of headaches - I just didn't feel right the next day."

NOT FEELING RIGHT

He still didn't feel right yesterday when he showed up at the rink. He isn't skating yet and won't until he's symptom-free on dry land.

"The last two days were a little rough," he said.

"I still have a headache. I don't feel that good, so I'm not quite ready to get back. I'm kind of slow, I don't have too much energy. I don't feel right right now. I just don't feel very good. I'll just go day-to-day."

Hemsky, who's taken more abuse than a player of his talent should, wasn't in a complaining mood yesterday.

"I saw the hit on TV, it was nothing dirty, he just caught me in the right spot, right on the head, and I felt it right away. Everything exploded, from my nose to my head.

"It's nothing you can control, it's hockey. Hits happen and if somebody gets you in the right spot, that's what happens.

"I just reached for the puck. Maybe a normal player won't go for the hit right away, but I didn't know it was him."

Ethan Moreau had a minor tussle with Tootoo, which is more than anyone who was on the ice at the time bothered to do, but it wasn't enough to make any future opponent think twice about trying to send Hemsky back to the press box.

Despite the rather disturbing wins-to-concussions ratio, the Oilers still don't know how to look after their skill guys.

Nobody did a thing when Foligno knocked out Pouliot a game later.

"I lost maybe five seconds, but after that I remember pretty much everything. People were helping me get up and they were asking me questions and I answered," said Pouliot, adding he feels a lot better now.

"I worked out and felt pretty good. Tomorrow I'll skate and see how it goes.

"I went step by step, working harder, and didn't feel anything. If I don't feel anything (today) we'll move up the ladder."

Perhaps the Oilers skill guys should watch some old Glenn Anderson tapes. He didn't just get room because of Dave Semenko, he got it because players knew they risked losing a few teeth if his stick "accidentally" came up at the last second.

ALL ABOUT PROTECTION

If you're Hemsky, it's better to sit out a two-game suspension every once in a while for sticking someone in the face than to have your career cut short by injuries.

"That's probably not a bad idea, get his stick up and protect himself," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "He's a lot like Glennie in that he's not going to bail out.

"It's realizing and recognizing when you're in a vulnerable position, getting your stick up so maybe that's a little bit of a deterrent, too, outside of fighting the guy who delivers the hit and obviously we have to do some more of that."


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