Alex Tanguay left no doubt as to his path off the ice.

"Well, there was a stream of blood from their net all the way to our door . . . he was dripping," says Tim Jackman, who, from the bench, had watched his Calgary Flames cohort stagger to the dressing room Thursday in Phoenix. "It seemed like it took the ice people 10 minutes to scrape all the blood off. It's never fun to see your teammate take a puck to the face like that, because you know how bad it hurts."

Yes indeed — every one of them knows how bad that hurts.

Few have not left a similar trail of gore. Few have not made a wincing exit.

"If you haven't," says Cory Sarich, chuckling, "then you're pretty fortunate."

Hockey players are tough nuts. That's well-documented. (Tanguay, in fact, did return that night, but departed after one of his eyes puffed shut.)

Sew 'em up, send 'em out. That's routine.

"Ones in the face really sting," says scab-nosed Mark Giordano, who owns perhaps the most notched-up mug on the squad. "But once the swelling goes down, it's just like dealing with any other cut."

But what's it like, getting that on-site embroidery?

Action continues. You stop dead.

"You're missing a chunk of the game," says Giordano. "You can't really do much once it happens. You get in there. Usually, they freeze it up and stitch you up pretty quick. The docs are really good at getting you back out there. It's really a time thing — you're really fighting the clock when you get hurt like that."