CALGARY, AB -- The past five days have been a whirlwind for Daymond Langkow.
Last Thursday, head coach Brent Sutter told the veteran he would be suiting up for his first game in 375 days - a critical match-up with the St. Louis Blues in a win-or-have-all-hope-extinguished contest.
"A little more nervous than I wanted to be but having not played in so long, that was to be expected," he grinned. "It was very special. I was very anxious the day before and I just wanted to get on the ice and get going. It felt great."
One would think having suffered such a serious injury would make a player a little tentative for the duration of his first game in over a year. Not Langkow. The grizzled veteran jumped right into the fray, impressing the coaching staff so much with his play that they inserted him on the top line with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay midway through the game.
The move paid off. Late in the second period, the Blues had a 2-0 lead over the desperate Flames despite strong play in the middle frame. Head coach Brent Sutter threw his first line out in hopes of finding an answer to Jaroslav Halak and they did just that.
Langkow dished the puck out to Tanguay, who in turn handed it over to Iginla with a pretty pass and the captain deposited it into the back of the net.
In less than 40 minutes of play after missing 88 games, Langkow had his first point of the season.
"To be honest, I was surprised at how good he was already," Iginla said in St. Louis. "Literally, you would not think he's been out even two weeks, a month, whatever. It looked like he had never been gone, you know what I mean? Turning the corners. Controlling the puck. Imagine how tough it would be to all of a sudden, at that pace, not have pucks roll off the stick."
The man himself noted it wasn't quite that easy.
"It was tough. Especially that first shift there, I got caught out of position following the play and Reggie had to make a big block there. That was little discouraging but I just stuck with it. I felt better as the game went on."
As expected, the Blues didn't treat Langkow any differently than they would any other player. In the second period, Barrett Jackman laid into him with a cross-check that sent him to the ice.
"I was a little whizzed off just getting hit from behind like that. It happens. I shook it off and kept going."
On Sunday, he helped his club grind out a big victory in Denver over the Avalanche. On Monday, he was named as a nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy - a very unexpected honour.
"Not obviously something I was thinking about or expecting but I definitely appreciate it."
Now, the 34 year-old just wants to help his team wrap up the regular season on a hot streak. Given his strong performance in his first two games, there's no doubt Langkow will play a big role in the Flames final two games.
"I feel great, physically, better than expected. I thought I was going to be a little more sore after the two games. I feel really good. I'm looking forward to tomorrow night."