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Lee answers Senators' call

Rookie defenceman makes NHL debut on eve of 21st birthday

Tuesday, 03.25.2008 / 12:39 PM ET / Features
By Rob Brodie  -
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Lee answers Senators\' call
One day early, Brian Lee is getting quite the birthday gift.

The young defenceman from Moorhead, Minn., will make his National Hockey League debut tonight – hours before he celebrates his 21st birthday – when the Ottawa Senators face off against the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena (7 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).

While Lee’s callup is related to the hip injury suffered by veteran blueliner Wade Redden during the Senators’ 7-5 loss Monday night in Montreal, head coach/general manager Bryan Murray said the 6-foot-2, 205-pound rookie will be in the lineup regardless of whether Redden is a go tonight or not. His status and that of forward Dean McAmmond (bruised thigh) won’t likely be determined until game time, Murray added.

What can the Senators expect tonight out of Lee, who’ll wear No. 55?

“He’s a rookie,” Murray said Tuesday morning. “He handles the puck and he skates (well), but he’s a young player and we have to know that going in. He’s going to be an NHL player and I think a real good NHL player.

“We know what he brings to the table when he has a little time under his belt. What can he do tonight? I hope play like he plays in the minors, where he does a lot with the puck… He retrieves the puck, he makes the first pass real good. He’s an all-star in the American Hockey League.”

There’s also “a possibility” forward Cody Bass could be inserted into the lineup, Murray added, but that depends on McAmmond’s status, in part. Brian McGrattan could also fill McAmmond's spot if he's still sidelined tonight.

The Senators will go back to goaltender Martin Gerber for a 12th straight start as they attempt a quick bounce back from Monday’s loss in Montreal, during which the Senators fell behind 7-1 after two periods before mounting a rally in the final 20 minutes.

Tonight, they’ll face a desperate Sabres team that, with only seven games remaining, stands three points outside of a playoff berth.

“They’re like us right now. They’re up and down,” Murray said in describing the Sabres. “They have great periods when they play outstanding, score lots of goals and then they have a period of time where they don’t play very well for a period or so.

“We know the offensive ability they have. If you give them room, they’ll score goals. We hope we can play well against their defence. They’ve got some young guys back there and if we play right, get the puck in their zone and battle a little bit, at least we should get some scoring chances.”

Winchester arrives in Ottawa tonight

Newly signed college prospect Jesse Winchester is expected to arrive in Ottawa tonight, then undergo medical tests tomorrow. The Long Sault, Ont., native signed a one-year deal with the Senators that expires June 30, when he’ll become a restricted free agent. Though he’s not eligible for playoff action, the Senators would like to get the Colgate grad into the lineup at some point before the end of the regular season. “He had a (recent) shoulder issue, so we have to see how his health is,” said Murray. “We’d like to give him a couple of games, for sure.”

Around the boards

The Senators return home Thursday night to face the Sabres again (7:30 p.m., A-Channel, Team 1200). Fewer than 250 tickets remain for the game. Less than 50 are left for next Tuesday's visit by the Montreal Canadiens, while just 150 are available for the Senators' regular-season home finale April 4 vs. the Boston Bruins ... The Senators are 4-2-0 against Buffalo this season. The two meetings this week conclude their season series.




1 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
2 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
3 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
4 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
5 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
6 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
7 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
8 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47


E. Karlsson 53 11 48 7 59
B. Ryan 52 19 26 -1 45
M. Hoffman 49 23 18 6 41
M. Stone 51 14 24 -13 38
M. Zibanejad 52 11 21 -2 32
K. Turris 47 13 17 -10 30
J. Pageau 53 12 8 3 20
Z. Smith 52 10 5 5 15
C. Ceci 46 5 10 -3 15
C. Lazar 48 5 9 0 14
C. Anderson 21 17 4 .913 2.91
A. Hammond 3 5 2 .900 3.10