|Sens defenceman Jared Cowen was one of the runners-up for the NHL's rookie of the month award for December, which went to forward Adam Henrique of the Devils (Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images).
appreciates the recognition.
But the Ottawa Senators blueliner isn't exactly ready just yet to prepare anything in the way of an acceptance speech.
"I don't really pay attention to things like that," admitted Cowen when informed he was one of the three runners-up for the National Hockey League's rookie of the month award for December, which went to forward Adam Henrique of the New Jersey Devils. "Usually, when I get those kinds of accolades, I'm not really thinking about it. I just go out there and do my job, and things like that just fall into place.
"There's still a lot of the season left and from what I hear, it gets harder."
In other words, don't expect the 6-5, 230-pound defenceman to consider himself a prime contender just yet for the Calder Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL's top rookie. But the nine points (2-7) Cowen recorded in 13 games during December are merely another sign that he's settling in just fine during his first full season on the Senators blue line.
"Coming in (to the season), I didn't really have any expectations," Cowen said following the Senators' pre-game skate in advance of tonight's matchup with the Devils at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200). "I wasn't sure what to think. I didn't have any goals for my game, so I guess it's kind of gone how I thought it would. I just wanted to keep playing better and move up in the lineup a bit. I think I'm playing pretty well, but I still have lots of room to grow."
Entering training camp, Cowen was thought to be in a battle with fellow rookie David Rundblad for a spot on the Senators' blue line. But the 20-year-old native of Allan, Sask., is now averaging nearly 20 minutes of ice time per night, while Rundblad was dealt to the Phoenix Coyotes two weeks ago in exchange for centre Kyle Turris
Senators head coach Paul MacLean has shown growing confidence in Cowen, playing the young defenceman in just about every situation — including overtime, a situation in which he produced the game-winning goal against the Sabres in Buffalo on Dec. 13.
"It helps," Cowen said of the confidence the coaching staff has in him. "It puts me at ease and helps me relax. It's one less thing to worry about, and I can just go out and play the game.
"Most of the time, you just have to be confident and believe in yourself. It's hard to get here and once you do, you realize that everyone has their own path and sometimes, it takes time (to stick)."