Pens' prospect Morrow provides insurance on defense
By Rob Rossi
Published: Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, 8:27 p.m.
Joe Morrow, the Penguins' top defensive prospect, is ticketed for prime time.
Sunday night, he was an insurance policy.
The Penguins promoted Morrow from their AHL affiliate because of “some bumps and bruises” to members of the defense corps, coach Dan Bylsma said Sunday.
“He's coming up for insurance,” Bylsma said of Morrow, who was the 23rd overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Morrow, 20, is in his first professional season. He had recorded 10 points and registered a minus-4 rating in 39 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL.
Dylan Reese, an Upper St. Clair native recalled from the AHL on Wednesday, said the last couple of weeks marked a turning point for Morrow.
Agreeing with that assessment, Penguins assistant general manager Jason Botterill said “whatever (Morrow) learns this year is an added bonus.”
“He's just getting used to the pace of pro hockey, the strength of players and understanding the system,” Botterill said. “He has some very impressive individual assets — his skating, his shot. He's just trying to figure out when to utilize it, when to jump up in the rush and when to stay more defensive.”
Morrow did not play Sunday night against the New Jersey Devils at Consol Energy Center. Also not in the Penguins' lineup were defensemen Kris Letang (undisclosed, lower body) and Matt Niskanen (ankle).
Letang, the club's top overall defenseman, missed a third consecutive contest. His official status is day-to-day, and he is on the injured-reserve list retroactive to last Tuesday.
Letang will be eligible to play Wednesday night at home against the Ottawa Senators, though that is unlikely because the Penguins will just have one off-day practice before that game.
Niskanen practiced with teammates Sunday morning but missed an eighth consecutive game.
The original prognosis for his recovery was between two and four weeks. Sunday marked two weeks since he was injured while sliding into the end boards during a Penguins' win at Ottawa on Jan. 27.
“I'm able to do more and more things on the ice every day,” Niskanen said. “I'd like to believe I'm close … but I still have a few more steps to take.”
The Penguins' defense pairings against the Devils were: Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin; Deryk Engelland and Robert Bortuzzo; and Reese and Simon Despres. Only Orpik, Martin and Engelland were regulars for the Penguins last season.
Despres had averaged just over 16 minutes the previous three games. Bortuzzo, also seeing regular duty for the first time, was at 14:40 in average ice time over the same span.
“It's a combination of the coaching, the system they play (at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton), and the guys in the room here make rookies feel pretty comfortable,” Orpik said of reasons for relatively smooth transitions of Despres and Bortuzzo.
“On other teams, you hear rookies are kind of given a hard time or secluded a little bit, and that's starting to get pushed out of the league a little bit. You realize (with) some of these younger guys how important they can be to your team. Making those guys feel comfortable off the ice has a big translation to how they perform on the ice.”
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Q&A with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman
- Penguins notebook: Goc skates, tests ailing ankle
- Five years later, Crosby wants another Cup win
- Penguins notebook: Team calls for playoff `gold-out’ in Game 1
- Penguins’ Malkin expects to play in Game 1
- Penguins coach Bylsma’s system will be put to test in Stanley Cup playoffs
- Penguins need several players to step up during playoffs
- Penguins notebook: Vokoun playing in regular-season game a possibility
- Blue Jackets resemble Penguins, their 1st-round playoff foe
- Penguins notebook: Crosby rested, but clinches scoring title
- Penguins Insider: Depth might be better fit for Stanley Cup playoffs