The World Junior Championships began days ago in Buffalo, and the two biggest names in the Senators prospect pool have started off very well. Jared Cowen has one goal to complement some terrific defensive play, while Robin Lehner posted a shutout in his lone appearance. The third sister, Jakub Culek of the Czech Republic, has one shot and no points in two games so far.
But back to the big names. In his lone start so far in the tournament, Lehner stopped all 30 shots Russia threw his way. It was a strong statement for the big goalie, and although the Russian team isn't as star-studded as lineups have been in past tournaments, Lehner made some serious saves in the effort. Most notable, oddly, were some blocker-saves made, but he was by far the story of the game between the Swedes and Russians.
On to the Canadian squad, Cowen has also had a standout performance so far, and it's earned him praise from the TSN crew. Mid-way through Canada's tournament-opening game with Russia, Bob McKenzie noted particularly Cowen's assertiveness and poise, while late in Canada's game against the Czech Republic, Pierre McGuire said that Cowen was by far the most improved player in the tournament for Canada. Although the calibre of competition in the WJCs is much stronger than the WHL, Cowen's still looked dominant at times. Although he hasn't thrown any big hits, he's been confident heading into scrums, and more often than not would be the player skating the puck out of the zone. One point might not knock your socks off (especially when Canada's scored 13 goals in two games), his play has been impressive. With defenceman Calvin de Haan injured and possibly missing games because of it, Cowen's role seems poised to grow as the tournament goes on.
Culek hasn't done much to date in the tournament, but he's still a young prospect who's not likely getting much in the way in ice time.
But the two strong prospects the Senators have in the tournament bode well for the team's future.
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