Ales is in wonderland

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

After four goals and two assists in his first two games back from a concussion, Ales Hemsky looked at the big yellow yield sign at the all-star break and felt a little like the priest who played through the thunderstorm in Caddyshack.

When you've got it rolling like that, you don't want to shut it down for anything.

Only Hemsky didn't have the option of playing through.

Like the rest of the surging Oilers, he had to pull up, cool his heels for six days and hope that whatever mojo drove him to those incredible efforts is still on his shoulder tonight when the Oilers return to action against Buffalo.

"I feel great, a great five days off and I'm ready to play again," said Hemsky, who spent the break in Edmonton, working out.

"It's nice to have points like that and games like that, pick up the confidence. You don't expect every game will be like that, but hopefully I can help the team win."

Asking him to pick up where he left off might be a little much - there's no such thing, after all, as a point-a-period player - but it'll be darn exciting to see what Hemsky and the Oilers can become in the second half if he remains anything close to the game-changing, clutch-scoring, jaw-dropping dynamo he was against Phoenix and Columbus.

"Obviously his confidence is higher than it's been at any time as an NHL player, I would think, based on the things that he's doing on the ice," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "He realizes that the game is there for him."

Hemsky has always teased, showing glimpses of greatness that always seem just around the corner, but never enough to fully satisfy, or get him mentioned in the same sentence as Crosby, Ovechkin or Malkin. Watching him lately, though, gives you the impression he could be.

"I hope so; that's why you're playing hockey," said the 25-year-old. "You can't be satisfied just being a player, you want to be the game breaker. You want to be up there. That's why I've been playing hockey all my life, that challenge."

If the last couple of games did anything, they opened eyes. Hemsky's, his teammates, coaches on other teams making game plans for Edmonton.

MacTavish calls it another page in Hemsky's evolution as an impact player.

"The last year we made the playoffs he scored some spectacular goals that year, in the most critical stage of the game," said the coach.

"He has that ability to grab a loss out of the jaws of the opposition and turn it into a win for us. He's done that many, many times before.

"When the game elevates itself he has the ability to grasp it, and that's what great players do. He's proved that over and over again."


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