SUN Hockey Pool

Langkow couldn't watch games

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

NEWARK, NJ -- Seeing the Flames lose to the Carolina Hurricanes and Atlanta Thrashers didn't expedite Daymond Langkow's return to face the New Jersey Devils last night.

You see, he didn't watch either defeat.

"I don't watch unless I absolutely have to. You want to be on the ice," Langkow said after his team's morning skate yesterday. "I was trying to get back as quickly as possible. The plan, even before those last two games, was to skate Saturday and test it, see how it felt. It felt good enough. From there, it was day-to-day and now it's good."

Langkow's return from a hand injury after missing nine games gives the Flames one of their three second-line players who've been out of action, the first piece of good news on the injury front the Flames have had in a few weeks.

Todd Bertuzzi is due back early next month from knee surgery, while Rene Bourque's ankle is expected to likely keep him out until the start of the playoffs. The team also lost defenceman Mark Giordano to a shoulder injury which required surgery.

Langkow's return is a much-needed boost for the struggling squad.

"He's back quicker than some of us as players had thought. It's great," said captain Jarome Iginla. "He's a very good player, big part of our team, and a veteran presence and with his skill level, it's great he's back.

"We didn't expect him back so quickly."

Quickly? Tell Langkow he was back quickly.

"It's been a couple weeks, but feels more like a couple months. I'm anxious to get back in there," he said.

It's Langkow's longest time on the shelf since a fractured foot cost him 11 games back in the spring of 2001.

Last night's game is the first time the club had all of its top-four centres in action since the arrival of Olli Jokinen. Obviously, Langkow's slot on the team is different, but his role won't change.

"I'm not going to approach games any differently," said the veteran centre who's collected 18 goals and 42 points this season. "I'm going to go out there and try to help the team and make an impact. Nothing's going to change there."

And maybe now the injury wave will subside.

"For most of the year, we were pretty fortunate in that area," Langkow said. "It's just they all seemed to happen within a few games. Gio, he's definitely done for the season, Bourque, it's hard to say. I feel bad for those guys. You don't know what they're going through until it happens to you."


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