CALGARY - Brent Sutter was trying to go through his memory banks.
The time in question was the last game in which David Moss played.
ďItís been forever, when everyone was growing moustaches, thatís all I know,Ē the Calgary Flames head coach said after Wednesdayís practice at the Saddledome.
OK, it wasnít 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 wasnít 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 didnít pack any four-leaf clovers or rabbitís feet in his luggage.
ďThereís no reason to think bad things can happen. I donít know if I can have any more bad breaks,Ē said Moss, whose seasons came to an early close each of the past two years due to shoulder and ankle injuries. ďYou canít think of that. Iím going to go hard and do what I can do.
ďItís pretty much over. I donít think you can go into games thinking about injuries or things in the past. My ankleís healed, and Iíll be ready to go.Ē
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.
ďItís good to have him in the lineup because heís a big body. Heís a responsible player,Ē said Sutter, whose team can use all the good news it can get these days.
Although itís 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 ó 2008-09 ó and netted 17 tallies in 58 games last season before being put on the shelf for the final 11 outings.
ďIím sure Iíll be nervous. At this time of the year, everybodyís nervous. But I think Iíll be anxious more than anything. Iíve been off a long time and am looking forward to being back,Ē he said. ďItíll be fast paced. Everybody feels the urgency, and the mistakes are magnified. For me, itíll be a matter of keeping it simple and try to get back into the flow.Ē
And his return gives a crash-and-bang winner for Jokinen and Glencross.
ďWe all think this game the same way, try to play straight-line hockey,Ē Jokinen said. ďItís very easy to play with players like that. For us, itís not going to be anything pretty, but hopefully, itís going to very effective.Ē
And maybe this can put a positive ending on whatís been a trying season for Moss, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
ďWhen you miss this many games, itís never fun watching, especially when youíre teamís battling to get into the playoffs,Ē Moss said. ďHopefully, I can bring a breath of fresh air and some energy. Hopefully, I can get some wins.Ē
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