SUN Hockey Pool

Gilbert's Oilers ironman streak intact

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:15 PM ET

Tom Gilbert played his first-ever game on his birthday. He scored a goal in his second game. He played his third game back home in Minnesota and in his fourth game he got knocked out of the lineup for a month with a concussion, courtesy of a Jody Shelley blindside hit.

The shot gave him a quick lesson in just how difficult it can be to stay healthy in the NHL.

He hasn’t missed a game since.

His 289th in a row came Tuesday against Buffalo, but it was no gimme. As late as Monday evening, Gilbert and the training staff didn’t know if the knee he banged up a game earlier in Vancouver would be good to go.

“The streak is not the important part, the important part is making sure it’s OK to go out there and skate with it,” he said, adding he barely gives any thought to the consecutive games run. “I have no idea how many games I have to be honest with you. You just go out there and play.”

The key to staying healthy, he says, is equal parts preparation and luck.

“I think a lot of it is just trying to take care of your body as much as you can. When you have off time before and after practice making sure that you’re ready to go on the ice and prepared to go into battle. That’s been the biggest thing for me, just always being ready physically, mentally, never taking a day off.”

He says the latest ailment is the closest he’s come since that first concussion to sitting one out.

“This is probably it right here. There have been a lot of bruises, blocked-shot bruises. I’ve had a couple groin injuries, a couple strains, those are tough to take care of, but rest is the best thing.

“If it was something that would aggravate by going on the ice and pushing it hard, if it would make it worse, then it’s something you take a game off for because down the road is obviously way more important than just one game. but having the day off Monday made it feel 10 times better.”

Follow me at Twitter.com/TYCHKOWSKI

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


Photos