Penguins notebook: Morrow's skills a better fit in St. Louis
Blues forward Brenden Morrow is more snarl than skill at this stage of his career, and he clearly has found a home in St. Louis.
He admitted to never feeling so comfortable with the Penguins.
Morrow, acquired last March by the Penguins, was fairly productive in the regular season but looked a step slow during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
He said after Sunday's 1-0 St. Louis victory over the Penguins that he finds himself in a system that better complements his style.
“We play a gut-it-out, heavy-man kind of system in St. Louis,” Morrow said. “Pittsburgh was more of a chip-and-retrieve type of system, which helped them benefit from the speed that they have.”
Morrow possesses many attributes — grittiness, locker room presence and still some goal-scoring touch — but speed simply isn't one of them.
“Obviously,” Morrow said, “with the boots I've got, the system that they play in Pittsburgh really didn't fit my game. The system in St. Louis is completely different than what Pittsburgh does, and it fits me better.”
Morrow suggested that Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has been more willing to work with his strengths and limitations. Hitchcock previously coached Morrow in Dallas.
“I think the biggest thing for me this season has been having the benefit of playing a whole year and of having coaches that have trust in you,” Morrow said. “Trust from coaches is something you can gain over an entire season. I might be more comfortable here because I've been here a few months now.”
Morrow scored 14 points in 15 regular-season games with the Penguins. However, he had only four points in 14 playoff games while consistently seeing his role and ice time decline.
The Penguins didn't muster many quality chances against the Blues but had a 98-second, 5-on-3 power play at the end of the second period. It stretched into the third period, but the Penguins were unable to generate anything more than moderate scoring opportunities.
Despite having just three men on the ice, the Blues managed to clog passing lanes and protect the front of their net.
“That was the biggest moment of the game,” St. Louis center David Backes said. “It's rare that Pittsburgh doesn't capitalize on a chance like that.”
Backes does it … again
It's not so rare for Backes to shut down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. In fact, the St. Louis center has played seven NHL games against Crosby, and the Penguins star has zero goals and four assists in those meetings. He helped blank Crosby and was part of the defensive effort that saw Malkin credited with four turnovers.
“I don't want to give you all my secrets,” Backes said. “If I was going to have a skill competition against those guys, I'd lose 100 times out of 100. I have to be physical and make them earn their ice. That's how I play most nights. Against those guys, you have to.”
Lots of defensemen
In a rarity for Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, he opted to use seven defensemen against the Blues and only 11 forwards.
“Went with the heaviest seven ‘D' we had,” Bylsma said, referencing the Blues' considerable size at forward.