Game 81: Ottawa Senators @ Tampa Bay Lightning

The Ottawa Senators have a game tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning, which will be interesting for a few reasons:

  1. Steven Stamkos is in the thick of the Rocket Richard Trophy race, and has 47 goals on the season.
  2. Milan Michalek is back in the lineup, replacing Ryan Shannon who will sit out.
  3. 2009 first round pick Jared Cowen makes his NHL debut tonight, wearing #48 and taking the place of Anton Volchenkov who will be given the night off.

I know we're all excited to see Cowen play, but it's probably worthwhile to remember that his performance will likely underwhelm us. As our friend and Spokane Chiefs season-ticket holder WrapAroundCurl FanPosted for us today:

It was unclear whether or not Cowen was back at full strength when he re-joined the team after a crippling knee injury. Since, he's been inconsistent in play. Which is worrisome considering he was named captain. Often, he played with a timidness and was checked by talent a half foot shorter and 50 pounds lighter. He seemed to forget how large he is and to utilize that.

Cowen is being put into the lineup not because he's necessarily ready, but because the team wants him to get a taste of the show. They want Cowen to see what it feels like to play an NHL game, so that in the offseason he trains as hard as possible in an effort to make the big club next year. Enjoy watching him tonight, but don't put too much weight on his performance.

As always, join us in the comments before and after the puck drops!

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