SAN JOSE - Head coach Claude Julien elected to make a switch on the back end heading into Tuesday night's showdown with the Sharks.
After spending the first five games of the season watching from the press box, Joe Morrow is being given his first shot to patrol the Canadiens' blue line in place of Jordie Benn.
Admittedly, the 24-year-old rearguard, who signed a one-year, one-way contract on July 1, isn't feeling jittery ahead of his Habs debut, which will see Julien's troops battle a Sharks squad that has won 10 straight meetings between the two teams in Northern California dating back to 2001.
"I'd be nervous if it was my first game in a long time, but I got some preseason action in and I did my best to stay in shape and be prepared for this moment," said Morrow, who amassed two assists in four exhibition outings with the Canadiens, along with a minus-5 differential. "It's more excitement than nervous."
Video: Joe Morrow on making his Habs debut
With that excitement comes a desire to shine, of course. The Edmonton native - who boasts 65 game of NHL experience since debuting with the Boston Bruins back in 2014-15 - is eager to make a good impression in his first taste of regular season action since January 22, 2017 when he still called Beantown his hockey home.
"That's one of the goals, for sure. Keep it simple and contribute to this team as much as I can and play good defense first and move the puck," mentioned Morrow, on the way he plans on going about his business alongside partner Brandon Davidson. "Simplicity is where it's going to be at for me, for sure."
Julien is hoping Morrow maintains that mindset all game long and uses his most valuable skills to the best of his ability.
"His best asset is his skating and moving the puck out of our zone. During training camp, he tried to do a little bit too much, just like others did as well. We're hoping that he'll simplify his game and give us what we need - and that's a guy who can move the puck," explained the veteran bench boss. "He's a young player. He still has good potential, but he has to be able to exploit that potential and grow with the assets that he has."
Video: Claude Julien on Joe Morrow
While it was by no means an easy decision to make Benn a healthy scratch, Julien believes the timing was right for a change.
"Jordie isn't having the best start to a season. We saw last year that he's a very solid defenseman who makes good passes. Right now, he's having some trouble. Sometimes, taking a step back isn't a bad thing," noted Julien. "You definitely don't like to do it, but you have to make those types of decisions. If everything goes well for us, you have to keep going with it."
Julien also made a change up front, with Torrey Mitchell drawing back into the lineup in place ofJacob De La Rose.
Mitchell was a healthy scratch in the 4-3 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs over the weekend.
The 32-year-old forward played 280 games in a Sharks uniform between the 2007-08 and 2011-12 campaigns.