Game Day: Joe Morrow takes Jordie Benn’s spot on Canadiens blue line vs. Sharks

STU COWAN

SAN JOSE — Canadiens coach Claude Julien will make two changes to his lineup for Tuesday night’s game against the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center (10:30 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN Radio 690).

Defenceman Joe Morrow, signed as a free agent on July 1, will take Jordie Benn’s spot on the blue line, while Torrey Mitchell will take Jacob De La Rose’s spot at centre on the fourth line.

“We needed to make a change there,” Julien said about inserting Morrow in the lineup after the team’s morning skate. “Benny’s going to take a break. He’s been fighting it a little bit, so it’s a chance for Joe to come in and do the job here for us.”

Benn was pointless and minus-1 in the first five games this season. Morrow, a 6-foot, 196-pounder, had one assist in 17 games last season with the Boston Bruins. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round (23rd overall) at the 2011 NHL Draft. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin signed the 24-year-old to a one-year, US$650,000 contract.

“I think you’re going to see a guy that when he’s playing well that he can skate the puck out of your own end and move it quickly,” Julien said about Morrow. “Good first pass. He’s a smooth skater and he’s usually pretty good when he’s on top of his game in those areas. I think we can certainly use some of that to get, I guess, our offensive game going and getting on the attack a little quicker.”

The Canadiens rank dead-last in the NHL in offence with an average of 1.40 goals per game.

When asked if making a veteran like Benn a healthy scratch might have an impact on his psyche and confidence moving forward, Julien said: “No, not at all. He’s a professional. A lot of those guys are smart individuals. They know what they’re going through and they know when they’re playing well and when they’re not playing so well. So I don’t think it’s an issue at all.”

Morrow played for Julien in Boston and said after the morning skate that played a role in his decision to sign with the Canadiens as a free agent.

“I had a good relationship with him in Boston,” Morrow said about the coach. “It definitely was something that I considered that he was here and it was a little more comfortable for me to come into this situation that I knew what he likes in a player and what kind of coaching system he enjoys. So that was a small piece, but at the same time when you get an opportunity to join an organization like the Montreal Canadiens it’s very hard to turn down. So that was a huge piece as well.”

Morrow said he found out he would be in the lineup at the beginning of the morning skate when Julien spoke with him on the ice. 

“He said you’re going to slot in tonight,” Morrow said.

When asked how he would describe his own style of play, Morrow said: “I would just say a puck-moving, skating defenceman that can join the rush and bring a little bit of offence here and there. I’ve kind of gotten away from the offensive aspect of things the last couple of years to focus on maintaining a consistent defensive side of my game and I’ve grown a lot in that aspect. So just a strong-skating, puck-moving defenceman is what I can provide for this team.”

You can watch video from the Canadiens’ morning skate in San Jose on the HI/O Facebook page.

(Photo: Allen McInnis/Montreal Gazette)

Mitchell knows the way to San Jose

Mitchell, who is pointless in two games and was a healthy scratch for Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, played five seasons in San Jose after being selected by the Sharks in the fourth round (126th overall) of the 2004 NHL Draft.

Julien was asked if that played a role in his decision to put Mitchell back in the lineup.

“I’m not big on sentimental stuff,” the coach said. “It’s a hockey decision.”

The lines

Here’s how the Canadiens lines and defence pairings are expected to look against the Sharks:

Pacioretty – Drouin – Lehkonen
Byron – Plekanec – Gallagher
Hudon – Danault – Shaw
Galchenyuk – Mitchell – Hemsky

Mete-Weber
Alzner-Petry
Morrow-Davidson

Carey Price will start in goal. Price has a 1-3-1 record with a 3.45 goals-against average and .885 save percentage.

Long slump for Habs in San Jose

The last time the Canadiens won a game in San Jose was on Nov. 23, 1999 when defenceman Craig Rivet scored in overtime for a 3-2 victory. Since then, the Canadiens have an 0-8-2 record in San Jose. Last season, the Sharks beat the Canadiens 2-1 on Dec. 2 in San Jose.

The Sharks have a 17-14-4-1 all-time record vs. the Canadiens.

This date in Habs history

Oct. 17, 1957: Henri Richard scored three goals and added three assists in a 9-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Oct. 17, 1997: Shayne Corson scored a goal in a 5-1 win over the Sabres in Buffalo to give him 500 career points in the NHL.

What’s next?

After Tuesday’s game, the Canadiens will head to Los Angeles, where they will play the Kings Wednesday night (10:30 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN Radio 690). The Canadiens will wrap up their three-game road trip Friday night against the Ducks in Anaheim (10 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN Radio 690).

• Marc Bergevin has reason to sweat, but Carey Price won’t, by Stu Cowan

• Gallagher hoping bald head will change Canadiens’ luck, by Stu Cowan

• Fear not Habs fans, this team will improve, by Jack Todd

• Shea Weber (and his dogs) feeling more comfortable in Montreal, by Stu Cowan

 

94 Comments

  1. Habituated says:

    Had this window open from the “old” HIO, so let’s see if I can vent my spleen a little. As discussed in Boone’s blog last night, I’m with others in not making the jump to the evil-and-should-banned FB. ALN very light on comments, unfortunately.

    Oh, and the Gazette site doesn’t load properly in Opera, fyi.

  2. Sir Loin of Beef says:

    Joe Morrow, a defenceman with one point in 17 games, sure sounds like the boost the offense needs. I mean, with that kind of savvy in the GM’s chair, this year’s Habs will make 1976 look like a warmup.

    Les Canadiens sont la!

  3. rosemount says:

    WhyTF is Hemsky in the lineup? Let’s free up another $900K, please?

    “Hi stop for Bovril hevery time!”

  4. whazzzup says:

    Well I have known about hio for years, never dared enter the site till the leaf hab rivalry could once again resurrect. Now that we are past the cusp of saying game on every game we face for the foreseeable future, the site is going to Facebook only posting. Well I’m out after wendsaday as I don’t use these social sites and would rather stay anonymous. I won’t bother with a fake Facebook account. Shame things were interesting but I expect as all post sites that use facebook, you can expect the demise of the hio site. Plus expect to be charged next year.
    Adios and go leafs go.

    I may have lived beside ken Dryden once but now I’m in the center of the hockey universe

    • Rockhabsfan says:

      Facebook only posting? That would suck – I am not on Facebook and have no intention to join up.

      I have some good friends who are Leaf fans, and I hate them dearly, but there is no better hockey experience than Habs v Leafs in Montreal on a Saturday night.

    • Habby_Haberton says:

      A troll would rather stay anonymous?!!! Who woulda thunk it!

    • Sir Loin of Beef says:

      Wazz, welcome aboard. Know you well from the Mop & Pail comments section. As a Habs fan since Christ was a kid I’m not sure there’s much to talk about in terms of rivalry right now — Leafs are going the right way and ths Habs aren’t. However, you will find a better conversation here than on the Grope & Flail…NR & RM aren’t here.

      Les Canadiens sont la!

  5. cbhabsfan says:

    Looking back to last season, wasn’t the bulk of Jordie Benn’s best work with both Dallas and Montreal on the right side of the third pairing, which is his off side?

    Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but putting him on his “natural” left side, which I seem to recall happened late last season and continued through the playoffs and into this season, doesn’t appear to be working out at all.

    Maybe try him out on the right side again? What we have there already as options also shoots left-handed anyway. I kind of thought when he replaced Pateryn on the right side third pairing last year, Habs management believed they had finally found the modest stability they were looking for there.

    Did he all of a sudden start stinking out the Bell Centre on the right side? I must have missed the office memo on that, because I don’t recall that particular scenario actually taking place on the ice. Was there an inter-office memo I missed on this?

    • DDO_Habs_Fan says:

      Benn only played 13 games at the end of the season in a fairly easy schedule. Too small a sample size. The playoffs were more relevant IMO where he got exposed. I, and others, are not surprised now with him; just that it came so fast (thought half-way through he would have issues).

    • on2ndthought says:

      Right you are, cb.

      He was fine in the playoffs until he got moved to the left side.

  6. DDO_Habs_Fan says:

    If any of you are feeling the slightest sympathy for Benn, here’s a stat for you. Hudon has FIFTEEN more hits than Benn (2 hits) who is 3rd worse on the team after Mete (1 hit) and Hemsky (0 hits in the running for the new DD golden loins award for most consecutive games without a hit).

    Good news for Benn that he is not at the Centre Bell (crappy hot-dogs) so the food will probably be better at the Shark Tank.

  7. sakuknows says:

    Joe Morrow #45. What an odd number.

    I can only think of two others to wear this number: Asham and Barberio. Anyone else?

  8. chilli says:

    Tavares has no desire to come to Montreal – but neither did Webs – and he seems to like it now – so maybe Carey and JT’s agent who is besties with MB can make it happen.
    A trade would take Max, Gallagher and a 1st
    or
    Max, Juulsen and a first.

    I’d do either.

    Gallagher is useless in terms of winning games, but he has some value.

  9. nazzy says:

    Ex Habs
    Sergachev 1a 0g
    Radulov 2a 0g
    Beaulieu 1a 0g
    Let’s be fair. PK can’t have all the spotlight, or can he?

  10. Habnormal says:

    After 5 games, PK Subban has 7 points.

    After 5 games, Plekanec, Weber, Pacioretty, Petry, Danault, Byron and Galchenyuk COMBINED have 7 points. For those of you who said the Habs won the Weber for Subban trade or for others who say it was a wash, the incredible one-sided victory for Nashville will become more and more manifest with each passing year as Weber fades and Subban rises. No, I don’t expect the combined 7 to be this bad but 5 games is not insignificant.
    Possibly the dumbest trade in Habs history. Right up there with Roy. Time will tell? It’s already happening.

  11. jimmy shaker says:

    Sadly Price will get out goalied by Jones and the team will have more shots but fail to score….more of the same, and the 18 year futility strike will continue.

    Shaker out!

    • sakuknows says:

      Anytime I catch a rare chance to see Jones play, it looks like he’s completely modeled his game after Price.

      Yet when they go head to head Jones outplays Price. Tonight that changes!!!

  12. nazzy says:

    Alvin…love your optimism kid. The lads need more fans like you during times like these.

  13. Habnormal says:

    I agree with CJ bringing it Morrow for Benn. Still, it’s scary that 2/6 starting defenders on opening night are not in the lineup and one of them is no longer on the team. You could look at this in one of two ways:
    1. MB was dumb to have signed Streit in the first place
    2. MB was reasonable enough to admit the Streit experiment didn’t work and decided to cut ties early and move on

    Should 2 be the case, then why has he not done the same with Hemsky?

  14. DipsyDoodler says:

    Ladd + Clutterbuck for Galchenyuk.

    Do it MB.

    Character and sandpaper.

    —–

    • DipsyDoodler says:

      And more importantly we can all focus on something else for the next couple of years.

      Maybe learn a new language, a musical instrument, the tango.

      UCE can take up telemark.

      Front can spend more time at the saloon.

      Luke can catch up on the Muppet Movies he missed.

      Larue can reform that punk band.

      The rest of you can pretend to be the general managers of another sport like baseball or European handball.

      —–

    • Habfan17 says:

      hey, if you want Galchenyuk for Ladd and Clutterbuck, add in McCarron Carr, and Pleks and take Ho-Sang and Beauvillier

      Habfan17

  15. Don Birnam says:

    Another tape of Smokin’Joe.

    https://youtu.be/1HJ-OG-R3qk

  16. G4be says:

    Why MB continues to do these “experiments” with UFAs. Why don’t he just keep his playoff performers and keep building around them. I get PK Subban had a horrible streak before MB traded him away but so was Pacioretty.

    Radulov was the only living player in last year’s playoffs and MB just couldn’t negotiate a contract with him even if he was looking for the best contract offered to him. If it had anything to do with trying to fit him under the cap, MB could’ve just bought out Plekanec.

    MB was offered Weber for Subban, what he could’ve done is try to offer another package instead that ultimately end up being in the same spot but just on the side of the same trail.

    Then after mess of a season ends up keep MT for another “short” season. MB always says he’ll make a move if it only helps the team move forward and history shows, he hasn’t followed his own plan.

    • Habfan17 says:

      Did Bergevin not learn his lesson last season bringing in Ott, Martinsen and King? Now this season with Streit and Hemsky?

      Bergevin thinking:
      “So, hey, we can’t score, I think we need Clutterbuck and Ladd! Yeah, that’s the ticket. Hmm, Didn’t I bring in Shaw to provide these things?, Hmm, can never have too many 3rd and 4th line plugs.”

      Habfan17

    • chilli says:

      What horrible streak did PK have in the playoffs?

      He was the best skater on the ice in our monster series vs. Boston and had been a great playoff performer from that first game he was called up vs. Washington as a rookie.
      He’s always been able to rise.
      The way Rads rose last year.

  17. Alvin says:

    This is the way it’s supposed to look coach.
    Pacioretty – Drouin – Galchenyuk
    Lehkonen – Plekanec – Gallagher
    Hudon – Danault – Byron
    Shaw – Mitchell – Hemsky

  18. Don Birnam says:

    I’m ok with Joe drawing in tonight.
    Fine western boy who likes to go.
    https://youtu.be/fWN3NFOPVEA

  19. WindsorHab-10 says:

    Will Marc Bergevin be gone if the Habs go 0 for California?

    I sure hope so.
    “I hate the Leafs like a sickness”

  20. Duffy says:

    Read in above article that Bergevin thought Streit would fill the void left by Markov, Ha,Ha,Ha,Ha,Ha, best one I’ve heard yet !!

    • WindsorHab-10 says:

      He’s definitely on very thin ice. Comments like that(comparing Streit to Markov) shows us all that he’s not a hockey person.

      “I hate the Leafs like a sickness”

  21. Alvin says:

    Morrow 23rd in the first round of the draft!?
    Guy should be a winner!

  22. Alvin says:

    I don’t understand Jordie Benn. When he joined the team I was impressed with his and was thinking a great addition to the team.
    No question to the start of this year he’s been bad.
    Wonder if them playing him on his wrong side has affected him.. a lot ?

  23. kirkiswork says:

    Holy cow! He is signed for 6 more years at 5.5 million. He is almost 32.
    Bergy has enough bad contracts to deal with already.
    Still nothing would surprise me.
    Expect the unexpected.

    GoHabsGo

    • Habfan17 says:

      Did Bergevin n ot learn his lesson last season bringing in Ott, Martinsen and King?

      Bergevin thinking:
      “So, hey, we can’t score, I think we need Clutterbuck and Ladd! Yeah, that’s the ticket. Hmm, Didn’t I bring in Shaw to provide these things?, Hmm, can never have too many 3rd and 4th line plugs.”

      Habfan17

  24. kirkiswork says:

    Just caught a bit of Melnyck in the afternoon and from what I can gather (I missed the beginning) they are under the impression that the Habs are pursuing Andrew Ladd.
    The whole crew was very negative about this due to age and contract.

    GoHabsGo

    • whazzzup says:

      ladd and chucky lol, talk about having the flu monthly

      I may have lived beside ken Dryden once but now I’m in the center of the hockey universe

    • Forum Dog says:

      That would be something alright. Ladd has an NMC, makes $5.5M until he is 37, has never topped 30 goals and hasn’t even come close in about 6 years. Why on earth they’d be interested in Ladd I have no idea. Hopefully this is all just smoke and they are really working hard on a guy like Leddy. At least he fills a need and has some mileage left.

  25. DDO_Habs_Fan says:

    Good. If you suck, you’re benched.

  26. Ingy27 says:

    Why in the hell are we play shitty ole hemsky over DLR??
    Julien is no better than MT

    Shea it ain’t so…….

  27. FormalWare says:

    Joe Morrow!
    Joe Morrow!
    I love ya, Joe Morrow!
    You’ve fin’ly a chance to play


    Montréal Canadiens: “Season after season under the same, low ceiling.” – D.M.


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