TAMPA - James Neal is no stranger to dental work.
"I think it's the sixth time I got my teeth all knocked out," he said after Tuesday's morning skate at Amalie Arena - his first practice since having eight teeth knocked out this weekend in Vancouver.
"When I got hit and was falling down, I could see (my teeth) going through the air and I was like … a few choice words, got up, got back in the room and just cleaned my lip up. My gum is not very good on the top but I cleaned that up and tried to get some stuff to get it stop bleeding and then came back.
"He kinda caught me completely perfect, right across my whole row."
Saturday's incident also marks the second time in as many seasons he's had his bridge knocked out by a high-stick.
"Last year, I got a stick really bad … it went right into my mouth and took out all my posts, it ripped my gums so I had have all my gums re-sewn on the top. I had surgery for that and after that all heals, you get the stitches out across and then they put all the implants in, the posts, all the root canals."
While Neal spent a few hours in a dentist's chair in Tampa on Monday, any major repairs will come after the Flames finish off their road trip this weekend in Pittsburgh.
"I have no teeth so I wasn't going to go through another four hours of putting new teeth in there and who knows, tonight I go out there and all that work goes again," he said. "I'll wait until I get back home to Calgary to do the full work … just a few things to plug stuff up so nothing can go up there, no infections, and making sure my implants were still up there and still intact because one of my posts went right through my gums."
Despite his lengthy history with dentists, he hasn't eased into any kind of dental work or the recovery process that comes with losing chiclets.
"There's nothing worse than going to the dentist," Neal stated. "The amount of needles that have to go in your gums, it kind of just ruins you for a few days. You're home to your bed and it's just really hard to eat - smoothies and soft food."
Video: "...the hours I've logged in the dentists' chair"
Neal returned to the ice this morning, skating alongside his usual linemates Mark Jankowski and Sam Bennett. He will be in the lineup tonight in Tampa, a team he has had plenty of success against throughout his career. In 18 games against the Bolts, he has put 11 goals and 19 points.
"They play with a ton of speed like ourselves. You don't want to get into any track meets, anything back and forth," he noted. "We want to be sound in our game, we want to be in on the offence, everything we talk about every night. But I think this night, we've got to be careful of their top guys. You don't want to put them on the powerplay - Kucherov, Stamkos, Point, those guys are deadly and dangerous when you give them some space.
"We're looking forward to an exciting (game), another good test for us tonight."