PITTSBURGH -- There still are times, Brenden Morrow said, that he'll have to ask a teammate where he's supposed to line up for a particular faceoff in a certain situation or part of the ice.
"I haven't totally grasped everything systems-wise just yet," Morrow said.
But as he prepares to play the 10th game into his Pittsburgh Penguins career, Morrow is feeling increasingly comfortable. It's showing in his play -- and in his offensive production.
After going without a point in his first four games upon being acquired in a trade, Morrow has three goals and three assists in his past five as he settles in with the Penguins after spending the entirety of his previous 12 NHL seasons with the Dallas Stars.
"Coming into work every day and in the locker room I feel comfortable and know my surroundings a little better," Morrow said Monday after practice at Consol Energy Center. "There's probably still some plays during the game, maybe a faceoff or two that when it's called I have to ask a question … but there is a comfort level of showing up at the rink and knowing the guys and knowing the locker room and not getting lost. So it's coming."
Morrow is coming off a three-point effort in Pittsburgh's fourth consecutive victory, 3-1 at the Florida Panthers on Saturday. That gave him points during each of the three games of the team's Southeast road trip.
"Everyone enjoys that part of the game," Morrow said. "We all know what our roles are and what your M.O. is at this point, and I know what mine is at this point of my career -- it's just playing hard in the corners, being physical. But it always feels good to chip in once in a while and contribute."
It isn't merely points or even the physical, gritty play that Penguins general manager Ray Shero cited when discussing the trade he made to acquire Morrow, one in which he relented top defense prospect Joe Morrow (no relation). Shero spoke highly of the intangibles of the longtime Stars captain.
It seems that in those areas, Morrow has been a strong addition to the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference, as well.
"He's a good leader and a great guy in the room," said Pascal Dupuis, who in recent games has been a linemate of Morrow's. "And he's been playing some solid hockey. You see what he can do on the ice -- he's a powerful guy on the ice, really strong on his skates, and he drives to the net hard. He actually makes some really nice plays, so it's good to see him getting rewarded with points. But even that said, there's way more to his game than just points."
In effect, that left him on the Penguins' "second" line along with Dupuis (tied for the League lead in even-strength goals) and Beau Bennett (a talented rookie taken in the first round of the NHL Draft three years ago). Morrow opened his Penguins career on a "third" line with Matt Cooke and Brandon Sutter.
That checking role figures to be more of what coach Dan Bylsma asks of him come time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, assuming everyone is healthy.
"I try not to change my game," Morrow said. "Kind of since my first year in the League, I've always had a skilled player to play with -- and I'm the farthest thing from that. I just try not to change my game, and depending on who I'm playing with you just want to stay physical and go to the net -- and good things usually happen."
Morrow was the first of a group of four veterans (joining Jarome Iginla, Douglas Murray and Jussi Jokinen) the Penguins traded for at or near the deadline in an effort to make a push for the Stanley Cup.
After being a minus-2 over his first six games, Morrow's been a plus-5 in his most recent three. He has 24 hits are tied for second among Penguins forwards since he joined the team.
"He's playing well," Sutter said. "It takes a few games. The first few he was playing hard but you always feel a bit off in your first few games because of new systems and new feelings. But the last few he's been great and you can tell he's starting to settle in here, and that's good news for us."
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