Morrow's value to Penguins should come in playoffs
Penguins winger Brenden Morrow hasn't scored yet for his new team, hasn't done anything especially flashy and hasn't received as much attention as some other new acquisitions.
Morrow isn't concerned, nor is anyone else in the organization. General manager Ray Shero brought Morrow to Pittsburgh because of what he will contribute in the playoffs.
“If we could add grit and leadership to our top nine, we wanted that element,” Shero told the Tribune-Review about the trade to acquire Morrow in exchange for former Penguins prospect Joe Morrow.
“That led us to the Morrow deal. His game is not so much about stats and goals, even though I believe he will chip in. He could be that battle-tested guy who comes up big for us in many ways.”
Shero and coach Dan Bylsma are hardly concerned by Morrow's lack of production since joining the Penguins. Rather, they see him punishing defensemen in corners and making his patented beeline toward the net and imagine the damage he will do in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The reality that Morrow possesses leadership skills that remind the front office of former right wing Bill Guerin doesn't hurt.
Morrow has delivered a team-high 15 hits during the past three games, including a number of punishing blows against the Rangers in Friday's 2-1 victory. He has been a steady, respected locker room presence from Day 1.
“He has been as advertised,” Bylsma said. “He's added some punch to our physicality. He's been a real factor.”
In the postseason, power-play opportunities and pretty goals typically decline. Dirty goals are often the difference, and Morrow figures to score his share.
“Of course, I wish I had already scored,” Morrow explained.
But he isn't the least bit concerned.
“Throughout my career,” Morrow explained, “I just do the simple things and I keep going to the net. Eventually, the hockey gods start sending the bounces my way.”
Bylsma has been quite pleased with Morrow.
“He's a straightforward player,” Bylsma said. “He gets to the forecheck, gets in front of the net, and he doesn't get far away from the net. He's been excellent there. I'm disappointed that we haven't cashed in on him being in front of the net.”
Morrow doesn't stray far from the net and doesn't figure to stray far from center Brandon Sutter and left wing Matt Cooke. If the Penguins' lineup is healthy in the playoffs — or even if it isn't — those three players figure to comprise the third line.
Bylsma wants a third line that will be physically disruptive and defensively responsible. In Sutter, Morrow and Cooke, he sees such a line.
“That's fine with me,” Morrow said. “With the depth that we have on this team, I don't really think anybody will be unhappy with who they play with. But if it's the three of us, that's fine. I think that can be a really good line.”
Scoring might not always be the priority for that line, but that doesn't mean Morrow doesn't intend on chipping in. The 34-year-old veteran has been around long enough to know that his style better translates to the postseason — and the postseason is why the Penguins acquired him.
“I feel like I'm getting to the right places to score goals and doing the right things,” Morrow said. “I haven't scored yet, but that's OK. Eventually, it's going to happen.”
Note: The Penguins have recalled winger Beau Bennett from Wilkes-Barre.
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
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