|"Compared to the beginning of the year, it's pretty much night and day," Brendan Morrison said of his current play. "I think I still have a little ways to go. But it's getting better every day here and that's a positive." |
In his mind, Brendan Morrison knew what he wanted to do on the ice earlier this season, but his surgically-repaired right knee was just not allowing it. But with each passing, frustrating day for the 33-year-old center, progress was being made.
Over the last week, that improvement has been at its apex for Morrison, who has scored game-winning goals in two of the last three games for the Ducks. After tallying just one point in his first 15 games with Anaheim, Morrison has now found the net four times and contributed seven points in the 15 games that have followed.
“Compared to the beginning of the year, it’s pretty much night and day,” Morrison said of his current play. “I think I still have a little ways to go. But it’s getting better every day here and that’s a positive.”
After the Ducks saw leads to St. Louis and Minnesota slip away in the last two games at Honda Center, it was Morrison who provided big goals in each contest to push the team to 4-2 victories in both.
Knotted at 2-2 with 2:37 left in the game against the Blues on Dec. 10 (after the Ducks had led 2-1), Morrison chipped a loose puck past netminder Chris Mason and rejoiced with a fist pump that had more meaning than your everyday goal celebration. Tied with the Wild at 2-2 (after Anaheim led 2-0) in the second period Sunday night, Morrison beat Marc-Andre Bergeron to the front of the net in time to redirect Todd Marchant’s pass one-handed by Josh Harding for the important goal.
|Morrison redirected Todd Marchant's pass by Josh Harding on Sunday for his second game-winning goal in the last three games. |
“It feels nice to contribute, especially when that’s part of your job and you haven’t done it for awhile,” said Morrison, a native of Pitt Meadows, BC. “I’ve been feeling better here. It couldn’t get much worse than the beginning. It can only go up. I just have to continue to build and be consistent.”
With his rising production, Morrison is starting to regain the confidence his injury had begun to deteriorate. “I know I can get to spots and challenge guys now whereas before I couldn’t even do that,” Morrison said.
His coach and teammates have also noticed the rise in Morrison’s poise over the last several weeks, and know it’s a big reason why his production on the scoresheet has increased.
“I think the most important thing for Brendan Morrison is he’s got confidence with the puck,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “He’s always been able to read situations and make plays. We knew he was able to do that. We just had to have more patience.”
Said linemate Teemu Selanne, “He is playing with a lot of confidence right now and that is a great sign. We need him and want to help him. In the last couple of weeks, he has been very good.”
Possessing such a potent first forward line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Chris Kunitz (combined 85 points), the Ducks have been searching for that secondary force to pair with them for some time. If Morrison can continue his current momentum, a solution may finally be in sight.
|"Any time you can add another element and a little more depth of scoring," you're that much more dangerous," Morrison said. |
“We’ve been riding Getzy’s line pretty hard here early on in the season and they have been doing an outstanding job scoring on a nightly basis,” Morrison said. “Any time you can add another element and a little more depth of scoring, you’re that much more dangerous.”
On Tuesday night Morrison will see a familiar face in Markus Naslund, his teammate in Vancouver for eight seasons, as they formed their own formidable line (along with Todd Bertuzzi for a good chunk of that time). They will be facing each other for the first time since going their separate ways and neither will be in a Canucks uniform, as Naslund will be suiting up for the visiting New York Rangers.
“It’s going to be strange,” said Morrison of playing against Naslund, with whom he keeps in touch at least once a month. “It will definitely be different seeing him in a Ranger uniform and not being at GM Place [in Vancouver]. We were there for eight years together and had a lot of good times. He’s a good friend of mine and we’re rooting for one another.”
And in the last couple of weeks, rooting for Morrison has been that much easier to do.
After previously getting sports hernia surgery completed on Oct. 3, Ducks forward Brad Larsen recently underwent hip surgery in a related injury. He will be out for approximately four months.