SUN Hockey Pool

Rookie relishes pressure cooker

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:11 AM ET

David Moss' first trip to the playoffs will be more than just a milestone moment.

It'll be a happy homecoming.

When the Calgary Flames rookie hits the ice for the playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings, it'll be against the team he cheered for as a youngster.

"It's nice to be in the playoffs," he said. "To go to a place I grew up is definitely exciting."

A product of the Motor City suburb of Livonia, Moss will have extra special emotions when the series starts Thursday at the Joe Louis Arena.

He's good friends with Brad Holland, whose father happens to be Wings GM Ken Holland. He idolized Steve Yzerman.

Be assured he grew up dreaming of skating on the Joe Louis surface donning the Winged Wheel worn by luminaries such as Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay long before his days and Sergei Fedorov, Nicklas Lidstrom and Brendan Shanahan when he was growing up.

For now, though, he must put those thoughts on hold.

"It's one of those things I don't really want to think about until I'm there," he said.

"I've been fortunate enough to play there once this year, so hopefully the jitters and stuff will be gone but I'm very excited."

Moss, and all the friends and family who'll be on hand -- and have to switch allegiance, at least for the next while -- have good reason to be excited.

Remember, this is a player drafted in the seventh round, 220th overall in 2001, news he received from his mom, who found out while surfing the Internet.

This is a player who needed all four years at the University of Michigan to develop well enough to get a pro shot and was 25 years old before getting into an NHL game.

After scoring the game-winning goal in his NHL debut, he was sent down to the minors.

Making it to the bigs was no easy, fast-tracked process for the 6-ft. 3-in., 203-lb. right winger who collected 10 goals and 18 points in 41 NHL clashes.

"It's a long process," he said. "The earlier on you are in your career, the harder it seems to get there. But things just kinda developed the way I did and I'm happy to be here."

So are the Flames. His progress, a surprising 21 goals in his first pro season with the AHL's Omaha Knights last year showed what kind of upside Moss had, was the reason Chuck Kobasew was expendable in the Brad Stuart trade.

But now, it's the second season. All those accomplishments -- such as skating to a spot on the second line with Daymond Langkow and Kristian Huselius for a spell -- are in the past.

Playoff time is a whole new situation, which the mature Moss knows.

"I'm sure the veteran guys will let the younger guys know what it feels like and how intense things are," he said.

"That's one of those things that comes with time.

"You see the game on TV but, I think, once you're on the ice it's a different story. I'm looking forward to it."


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