|Stephane Da Costa is going to get the chance to prove he can stay with the Sens for a while after the club decided to send rookie Mika Zibanejad back to Sweden Wednesday. (Errol McGihon/QMI Agency)
OTTAWA - Stephane Da Costa will be the centre of attention Thursday night at Scotiabank Place.
Banished to the fourth line because of indifferent play, the 22-year-old Da Costa is going to be given a good chance to get his act together playing with captain Daniel Alfredsson and winger Nick Foligno against the Florida Panthers.
And, Da Costa is going to get the chance to prove he can stay for a while after the club decided to send rookie Mika Zibanejad back to Sweden Wednesday. Then, coach Paul MacLean revealed centre Peter Regin won’t require surgery on his shoulder but he’ll be out 6-to-8 weeks.
“He’s opted not to have surgery,” said MacLean.
That means all eyes will be on Da Costa. He has one goal in nine games and has to start producing. He’s also the club’s worst defensive player with a minus-7 rating.
“We’re going to see what Stephane can do,” said MacLean. “It’s his ball to run with at this point in time. (He’s in) a top six position. We expect him
to rise to the occasion and see if he can accept that role and have success at it.
“We’d like (Da Costa) to make sure he continues to be diligent at both ends of the rink, not only with the puck, but without the puck. The big thing with Stephane has been the defensive part of the game.”
Da Costa said he knows he has to perform.
“I know this is an opportunity for me,” he said.
Winger Bobby Butler has also been cleared to play but he won’t be in the lineup against the Panthers either.
Here’s the way it will look:
Colin Greening-Jason Spezza-Milan Michalek
Nick Foligno-Stephane Da Costa-Daniel Alfredsson
Erik Condra-Zack Smith-Chris Neil
Jesse Winchester-Zenon Konopka-Kaspars Daugavins
David Rundblad-Chris Phillips
Sergei Gonchar-Jared Cowen
Filip Kuba-Erik Karlsson