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Original Issue

Holey Smiles

Nothing is pretty for an NHL dentist

ALL ROOKIES HAVE a "Welcome to the NHL" moment—even rookie dentists. For Kings team dentist Ken Ochi it came early in the second period of Los Angeles's home opener last October. Watching from the stands next to the Kings' bench, Ochi saw then-Rangers captain Ryan Callahan collide with Los Angeles center Anze Kopitar. Callahan left holding his mouth, and Ochi went to the medical room at the Staples Center to tend to him.

Ochi began cleaning a deep laceration under Callahan's lower lip when he saw something black in his jawbone. "I'm picking at it. It almost feels like bone, but it's spongier," Ochi says. "Then one of the other doctors was like, 'I think that's stick.' He got hit with a stick, lacerated his skin ... and it was embedded in his jawbone."

Ochi spent the better part of the second period picking pieces of composite out of Callahan's gum tissue and jaw, then stitched him back up so he could play the final 20 minutes of the Rangers' 3--1 win. That was a bit out of the ordinary, Ochi says—though he concedes that what's "ordinary" in NHL dentists' chairs is rarely routine.

An NHL dentist is on call for every game, and he addresses more than broken teeth. He treats most injuries above the neck, from cuts to broken skull bones. Along with team orthopedists and internists, they make up a game's medical pit crew. "[A player may be] in there for five minutes, and [coaches] are wondering why he isn't back, even after a huge laceration," Ochi says. "You feel the pressure."

Sometimes that means stitching players without anesthesia or doing just enough to solve the immediate problem. When Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (left) lost seven teeth blocking a shot during Game 4 of the 2010 Western Conference finals, he was back on the bench seven minutes later. "It's just missing teeth," Keith said after that game. "It's a long way from the heart."


"Ridiculous! I owe him a beer."

Marc Staal

Rangers defenseman's reaction to a desperate, flailing save by goalie Henrik Lundqvist in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.



Average ticket price for Game 6 at Madison Square Garden between the Rangers and the Canadiens, the most expensive game through the first three rounds, according to TiqIQ,


Goals scored in 17 postseason games this spring by Rene Bourque, after he scored nine in 63 regular-season games for Montreal.


Career save percentage for Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, the second best in NHL history behind Dominik Hasek's .922.


Game 7 goals for L.A. winger Justin Williams, tying him with Glenn Anderson for the most in NHL history. Williams's 14 Game 7 points is an NHL record.


Prospects taking part in the NHL Scouting Combine last week in Toronto, including center Sam Bennett, an expected top five pick in this month's entry draft.