Jimmy Vesey said he felt better than he looked on Monday, less than 48 hours after taking Zack Kassian's skate to the mouth that resulted in missing teeth, dental work and stiches.
The winger was back at practice in a full face guard and said he's feeling better with each passing day.
"Today's been the best day," Vesey said. "Saturday night was painful. Yesterday I went to the dentist again and couple 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. Once that goes down, I'm going to go back [to the dentist] and they're going to cap my teeth."
If watching the play live was difficult, it was even more challenging for Vesey, who missed most of the second period before returning for the third in the team's 4-2 victory over Edmonton.
"It's almost like I saw the skate coming in slow motion but couldn't move out of the way," Vesey said. "It hit me pretty hard, square in the face."
Vesey said he knew immediately that his teeth were knocked out and that the most painful part of the incident was the exposed nerves in his teeth being irritated when he breathed. The biggest surprise? While the teeth were out of his mouth, they weren't far away.
"The thing that delayed [a return to the game] a little bit was the X-Rays," he said. "Luckily enough they saw my teeth were in my lip. Glad we took those in the end."
The pain threshold for players is known throughout sports. You'd be hard-pressed to find tougher athletes in any game. Coach Alain Vigneault said those qualities are found in a lot of players at this level, with players seldom being at top health because of the rigors of a NHL season.
"For me as a coach, you get to know which player 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 alright after that."
Vigneault said there would be no changes to his defense for Wednesday's game against the Blackhawks in Chicago, meaning Brendan Smith would miss his sixth consecutive game as a healthy scratch.
Right now, though, Vigneault said his defensemen are playing too well to make a change.
"Sometimes the circumstances make it that it's not just the wins right now, but it's the way our D group is playing," Vigneault said, before adding his team did not allow a scoring chance to the Oilers over the final 25 minutes on Saturday. "That group right now is playing extremely well. The team is winning."
Vigneault said Smith would get back into the lineup at some point, but "for now, for the next game, I'm going to stick with the same group of Ds that we have."
Vigneault confirmed Henrik Lundqvist will make his seventh consecutive start.