GREENBURGH, N.Y. — He’s definitely a hockey player.
Rangers winger Jimmy Vesey practiced Monday with a protective cage covering his face after he took a skate to the mouth in Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Oilers.
Why wouldn’t Vesey practice? After being hit by the skate blade of Edmonton’s Zack Kassian, he returned to Saturday’s game after getting 10 stitches in his lower lip and two teeth knocked out.
Oh, and Vesey returned to the game even though two teeth were embedded in his lip. If he could have, he would have hopped back onto the ice even earlier. “The thing that delayed it a little bit was the X-rays,” he said. “Actually, luckily enough, they saw my teeth were right in my lip.”
Vesey went to the dentist Saturday night and again Sunday and will be going back again. On Monday, he sported a smile only a mother could love. His top front teeth were gone and his lower lip was badly swollen.
On Sunday, Vesey posted a photo on Twitter of his new (temporary) smile and a copy of his X-ray along with the caption: “That’s hockey #SorryMa”.
“My mom was at the game,’’ Vesey said. “She thought I just got stitches. She wasn’t happy about the teeth.”
Vesey said he was in quite a bit of pain over the weekend.“Today’s been the best day,” he said. “Saturday night was painful. [Sunday] I went to the dentist again and had a couple root canals and pretty much sat on the couch all day. Today I feel a lot better. It’s just the swelling in my lip that’s been really bad. So once that goes down, I’m going to go back in and they’re going to cap my teeth. Should be good to go.”
Of the incident, he said: “It’s almost like I saw the skate coming in slow motion but couldn’t move out of the way. It hit me pretty hard. Square in the face. I knew right away my teeth were gone, but I guess the nerve was exposed. When I was breathing, just the air hitting the nerve was really sensitive.”
Vesey wore the cage at Harvard. He doesn’t plan on wearing it long in the NHL. “Feels horrible now to go back to it,” he said. “You can’t really look down. When the puck’s at your feet, you can’t see it. That’s definitely different. But I don’t think I’ll be in it that long.”
Coach Alain Vigneault said he already knew what kind of player the 24-year-old was before he witnessed Saturday’s event.
“For me as a coach, you get to know which players can play through certain levels of discomfort and pain,” he said. “I would say most of the guys if they get to this level, it’s because they’ve accustomed their body to play through some pain. With the schedule and the demands of practice, you’re never 100 percent. It just doesn’t happen. You have to be able to play.
“Once Jimmy got sewed up after the second period, he came back and they found the tooth and they opened him up again. He was all right after that.”
Lundqvist to face Blackhawks. Vigneault said goalie Henrik Lundqvist will start in Chicago on Wednesday night.