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Health is Hemsky's main focus moving forward

by Robin Brownlee
EDMONTON -- As much as he wants two points against the Los Angeles Kings tonight, Ales Hemsky of the Edmonton Oilers wants nothing more than to stay healthy for the balance of this season.

The Oilers have 49 games in the books as they host the Kings at Rexall Place, but Hemsky has played in just 32 of those because of a strained groin and a concussion.

Limited to 22 games in 2009-10 because of season-ending shoulder surgery, it's been a difficult stretch of bad luck and bad health for the talented Czech winger.

"I'm just happy I can play again," Hemsky said. "It's been a tough two weeks for me. I'm just glad to be back and be fine to play."

Hemsky, 27, missed 13 games with a nagging groin strain, then returned to action for 11 games only to miss the final four games before the All-Star break with a concussion.

"I'm just happy I can play again. It's been a tough two weeks for me. I'm just glad to be back and be fine to play."
-- Ales Hemsky

"Hopefully, I can stay healthy and I finish the season strong," Hemsky said. "These are things you can't control. I'm just wishing to stay healthy and have some fun."

Road kings: The Kings lost 1-0 in a shootout to the Wild in Minnesota on Tuesday, kicking off a stretch in which they play 10 straight games on the road. The Kings, 10-13-1 on the road with the loss to the Wild, don't play at the Staples Center again until they host the Wild on Feb. 24.

Around the rink:
Jonathan Bernier stopped all 25 shots he faced in regulation time and overtime for Los Angeles on Tuesday, but the Wild won it on a goal by Pierre-Marc Bouchard. … Jonathan Quick will get the start against the Oilers, who are coming off a 3-1 loss in Dallas before the All-Star break and are 2-7-1 in the last 10 games. They have lost three straight at Rexall Place and are 7-13-4 at home. … The Kings have won both meetings this season, taking a 3-2 shootout decision Dec. 23 and a 5-2 victory Jan. 15 in games played at the Staples Center. Former Oiler Jarret Stoll had the winning goal in both games. … Oilers forward Zack Stortini has cleared waivers and has reported to Oklahoma City of the AHL. … Nikolai Khabibulin, who has lost his last 11 starts, gets the call for the Oilers.
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