CALGARY - Brent Sutter was trying to go through his memory banks.
The time in question was the last game in which David Moss played.
“It’s been forever, when everyone was growing moustaches, that’s all I know,” the Calgary Flames head coach said after Wednesday’s practice at the Saddledome.
OK, it wasn’t back in the 1970s, but it sure might feel that way for the right winger, who left with the team for its two-game road trip which begins Thursday at the Phoenix Coyotes (7 p.m., Sportsnet West). It was November, when the players were growing facial hair for the Movember campaign.
For the third straight season, Moss has battled through serious injuries, and this has been the worst for the 30-year-old from Livonia, Mich.
He suffered a broken ankle after blocking a shot in the Nov. 12 win in Colorado and seemed on the road to recovery in December, but he wasn’t healing properly and required surgery.
Moss, who has one goal and five points in 15 games this season, has been skating for the past couple of weeks and is raring to get back into the lineup, although he didn’t pack any four-leaf clovers or rabbit’s feet in his luggage.
“There’s no reason to think bad things can happen. I don’t know if I can have any more bad breaks,” said Moss, whose seasons came to an early close each of the past two years due to shoulder and ankle injuries. “You can’t think of that. I’m going to go hard and do what I can do.
“It’s pretty much over. I don’t think you can go into games thinking about injuries or things in the past. My ankle’s healed, and I’ll be ready to go.”
His return has created a chain reaction in the lines.
Moss skated alongside Curtis Glencross and Olli Jokinen, reuniting a trio which had solid success late last season before injuries forced Moss to play centre for a few games, which all came crashing down when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in practice.
Sutter put Jarome Iginla on a line with Alex Tanguay and Michael Cammalleri, with the hopes the Flames will finally have two scoring trios.
“It’s good to have him in the lineup because he’s a big body. He’s a responsible player,” said Sutter, whose team can use all the good news it can get these days.
Although it’s likely Moss will need a few games to get up to speed, his return can be a boon for the club.
He netted 20 goals in his lone full season — 2008-09 — and netted 17 tallies in 58 games last season before being put on the shelf for the final 11 outings.
“I’m sure I’ll be nervous. At this time of the year, everybody’s nervous. But I think I’ll be anxious more than anything. I’ve been off a long time and am looking forward to being back,” he said. “It’ll be fast paced. Everybody feels the urgency, and the mistakes are magnified. For me, it’ll be a matter of keeping it simple and try to get back into the flow.”
And his return gives a crash-and-bang winner for Jokinen and Glencross.
“We all think this game the same way, try to play straight-line hockey,” Jokinen said. “It’s very easy to play with players like that. For us, it’s not going to be anything pretty, but hopefully, it’s going to very effective.”
And maybe this can put a positive ending on what’s been a trying season for Moss, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“When you miss this many games, it’s never fun watching, especially when you’re team’s battling to get into the playoffs,” Moss said. “Hopefully, I can bring a breath of fresh air and some energy. Hopefully, I can get some wins.”
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