Don’t get me wrong, Chris Phillips has been a great team player for the Ottawa Senators for over 1100 games including playoffs. But with the talent and ability, along with being the first overall draft pick, you always wanted a little bit more. My friends and I used to joke that there were 2 versions of Chris Phillips – RSP (regular season Phillips) and POP (playoff Phillips). Playoff Phillips was a monster that would sell out his body to make a play or a hit and take one if it would help his team. Regular season Phillips was a very solid player who wasn’t always as physical as he could be.
Which brings me to Jared Cowen. In just two games back from hip surgery that was supposed to keep him out of the lineup until next fall, he has demonstrated ability that you always wanted from Phillips.
Cowen shows now signs of sitting back and easing himself back into the game, he has jumped in with both feet. His hit on Jeff Skinner on Tuesday was game-changing, as was his pair of fights that occurred after that hit. He had another big hit on Thursday against the Capitals, and he also spent a considerable amount of time on the cycle in the offensive zone.
Cowen’s combination of skill and “mean streak” that he has shown the last couple of games is just what the Senators have needed on their blue line since Zdeno Chara left. Phillips and Anton Volchenkov could play physical at times, but didn’t really have the constant mean streak where opponents would fear coming down the wing on them. I think as the months and years go on, Cowen will develop that reputation and will make opposing forwards keep their head on a swivel and prehaps make them dish the puck sooner than they would usually like to.
He is still very young and will have his growing pains, but it will be fun to watch him continue to develop. Cowen has already added more than most people expected from so soon after his surgery. And he will only get better.