SUN Hockey Pool

Snoozer could have used Tootoo

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

If ever a game needed Jordin Tootoo, it would have been yesterday's.

With a rare afternoon start, the Nashville Predators winger would have injected some life into a contest that had them all napping at Rexall Place.

Nothing wakes up a building like a tattooing from Tootoo.

"He's one of those guys that everyone hates playing against him, but you love him when he's on your team," said Predators head coach Barry Trotz. "He hits hard and he plays with an edge, and he's one of those few guys that will back it up. Guys like that make you think going back for pucks. He gives us that extra edge and that is real important for our team."

Tootoo was forced to miss yesterday's game after injuring his hand in a fight with Todd Bertuzzi Friday night against the Calgary Flames.

His return to Edmonton was highly anticipated, considering it was his hit that knocked Oilers star Ales Hemsky out of the lineup for 10 games.

Tootoo hammered the Oilers winger along the boards in their previous meeting in late December. Hemsky finished the game as the Oilers went on to win 5-2, but then was forced to miss the next 10 with concussion symptoms.

Ethan Moreau later challenged Tootoo in the contest, one which he naturally accepted.

"He's the type of player that plays with an edge, but will back it up," Trotz said. "He's not a guy that will hit someone then run for cover. He'll take you on and doesn't care how big you are."

Had Tootoo dressed, it's likely Steve MacIntyre's number would have been called as a deterrent, setting the stage for an explosive afternoon.

But without the Predators agitator in the lineup, there was no necessity for the Oilers to dress their enforcer, which made for a pretty vanilla affair despite Moreau's best efforts to get his team fired up.

"He just couldn't play," Trotz said. "He tried holding the stick this morning, he came in early and he just didn't have the strength. He didn't want to put himself and the team at risk, it's too important at this point."


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