BOSTON – Joe Morrow has been in a steady battle for playing time over the last couple of years with the Bruins.
The 24-year-old needs the playing time in order to improve and develop himself as an NHL player, but the former first round pick also has to earn time with the B’s by playing consistent, winning hockey. The consistency seemed to always elude him over the last couple of seasons when things would go sideways after he’d been in the lineup for a couple of games. That’s a place where Morrow was looking for a change this season.
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With that in mind it’s good news Morrow made a sizable impact in Boston’s 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night while putting together his third straight solid game after weeks serving as a healthy scratch. It was the young D-man that made the right decision to pinch, win the puck battle along the boards and then feed Matt Beleskey for a scoring strike from the slot.
It was his first point of the season in his fifth game, and Morrow was hoping it might allow him to start calming down in some offensive situations, and perhaps simply let his game take over naturally.
“I think I’ve been playing pretty well, you know, just game-to-game it’s a fight to stay in the lineup for me and to produce and help this team win,” said Morrow, who said he worked on that exact scoring play with Beleskey during practice on Saturday morning. “So when that happens it’s always a good feeling and to be able to contribute a little bit, too, it always helps.
“I just went down the wall, I knew someone was coming up high and to keep the puck in and try and make a play out of it – it’s a 0-0 game – you’ve got to try and make a difference. Once that [Beleskey goal] went in I think everybody kind of got a little boost of energy and realized that that was our game to take. So that was pretty much my thought process behind it.”
Morrow finished with the assist and a plus-1 rating in 15:46 of ice time along with a hit and a blocked shot, and didn’t have any of the major defensive brain cramps that have been part of the overall package in the past. So it’s been an encouraging sign for the Bruins with Morrow playing in place of the struggling Colin Miller, and putting a few pretty good games together at both ends of the ice.
“The consistency with Joe [Morrow]…we see the potential. But it was always, the first game was good, the second was okay, and by the third you know [Morrow’s game] got loose a little bit,” said Julien. “So far the three games he’s played he’s been good. You know and that’s what you want from a young player, you want to see some progress and right now so far he is showing us that he’s learning that.”
The trick for now, as always, with Morrow is simply continuing to make plays offensively given his shot and skating ability, and perhaps finally starting living up to his first round pick expectations that he’s now carried around in the Stars, Penguins and Bruins organizations in an unusually well-traveled NHL career to this point.