|Ales Hemsky looks on during an Edmonton Oilers practice earlier this season. Hemsky — who has been out of the lineup since he tore his groin during a game against the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 1 — has missed 10 games, but is back skating with team and is expected to play Tuesday when the Oilers host the Buffalo Sabres. (PERRY NELSON/QMI Agency)
VANCOUVER - Ales Hemsky figured he was ready, but the Edmonton Oilers decided to sit their star winger for at least one more game.
Hemsky has been out of the lineup since aggravating a groin injury on Dec. 1 in Montreal. It’s expected he’ll be back in the lineup on Tuesday when the Oilers host the Buffalo Sabres.
“I’m feeling pretty good, I’ve been skating for the last week and been working out for the last three weeks. I’m go to go for the game,” Hemsky said. “They just probably want me to get some practice. I was good to go (Sunday), but it didn’t work out.”
Originally hurt against the Phoenix Coyotes on Nov. 23, Hemsky sat out the next three games before returning to play against the Canadiens.
He finished the contest with a goal and two assists, but had to go back on the injury list.
“I tore it,” Hemsky said. “It could have happened the first time I hurt it, or the time I came back in the Montreal game. It’s tough to say.
“I was sore when I came back the first time. I never had that injury before, so I thought I would be able to get through it. But I didn’t. Then I had the MRI and they told me I tore my groin and that I had to wait four to six weeks. It actually healed faster than that. I feel pretty good right now.”
In 21 games this season, Hemsky has seven goals and 11 assists for the Oilers. He had 22 points in 22 games last year before a shoulder injury put a pre-mature end to his season.
In hindsight, it was obviously not a good idea for Hemsky to play in Montreal and it’s the reason the Oilers are being particularly cautious with him on this occasion.
“I don’t like to look back. I played and at the time thought it was the right decision,” Hemsky said. “I was trying to get back as fast as possible to help the team. It was one of those things, there’s nothing I can do about it now.
“After the Montreal game, I was thinking it was just going to be another three games to get better. But it was worse than we thought. I got pretty lucky, I guess it could have been worse. But I healed pretty quickly.”
Hemsky has missed 10 games the second time around, but made the trip to Vancouver with the club on Sunday and took part in the morning skate.
However, that was not good enough for head coach Tom Renney to insert Hemsky into the lineup.
“I’m not going to look at him in a 14-minute skate, seeing him for the first time in quite some time and decide to put him in the lineup in a game like this that’s for sure,” Renney said.
Also making the trip to Vancouver, but still not ready to get back in the lineup were Gilbert Brule and Jim Vandermeer.
Brule is still suffering the effects of a flu bug that forced him to stay home while the team traveled for a pair of games in California. Vandermeer is trying to recover from a sprained ankle.
“I just had a stomach bug and was basically sick for the first couple of days,” said Brule. “After that I was drained, I had no energy and was pretty pale. But I’m feeling better now, it was good to get a couple of days off and I felt pretty good on the ice.”
Brule had shown up at the Oilers practice in Leduc prior to leaving for San Jose and but was sent home when it became apparent he would not be able to play.
“I’m pretty close now, I haven’t done a lot of exercising since I’ve been out for the week,” Brule said. “I had a decent skate (Sunday) and I’m going to have another good skate (Monday) and hopefully I can play on Tuesday.”