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Bruins return Joe Morrow to Providence 04.11.15 at 11:23 am ET
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Joseph Morrow

Joe Morrow

TAMPA, Fla. — To the surprise of no one, Zdeno Chara will play Saturday night as the Bruins make their final and unlikely bid to reach the postseason.

That much was made official Saturday morning when the team announced it had sent defenseman Joe Morrow to Providence.

Morrow had been recalled earlier in the week as Chara dealt with an injury in the left foot area. Chara missed Monday’s practice after blocking a shot with the foot a week ago against the Leafs, and he was hit again on the other side of the foot by a Joel Ward shot Wednesday in Washington. Neither he nor the Bruins have elaborated on his condition.

With Morrow no longer on the roster, Boston has only six defensemen: Chara, Adam McQuaid, Zach Trotman, Dennis Seidenberg, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski. Dougie Hamilton did not make the trip and will not play.

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Bruins recall Joe Morrow on emergency basis; Zdeno Chara absent from practice 04.06.15 at 10:32 am ET
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WILMINGTON — The Bruins recalled defenseman Joe Morrow on an emergency basis Monday. Morrow was on the ice at the start of Monday’s practice, while Zdeno Chara was missing.

Chara was in pain after blocking a David Booth shot in the third period of Saturday night’s shootout win over the Maple Leafs. The shot hit Chara in the foot/ankle area, and while Chara was slow to get off the ice, he did not miss any time.

The play came as a result of a Reilly Smith turnover at the point during a power play. Chara had to race back and lay out to block Booth’s bid, hobbling him as he skated to the bench.

Claude Julien said after the practice that Chara’s absence was indeed related to the blocked shot, but Chara could be back on the ice for Tuesday’s practice. Julien termed Chara “day-to-day.”

All other players were present for Monday’s practice, with Claude Julien changing his lineup for the skate. Julien has tinkered with his lines in practices and used different ones in games (as was the case with Saturday’s morning skate and game), so the following lineup used Monday should be taken with a grain of salt:



The B’s are entering their final three games of the season. They currently sit third in the Atlantic Division, as they are tied with the Red Wings with 95 points but hold the second tiebreaker thanks to their edge in the season series between the teams.

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Bruins recall Joe Morrow on emergency basis 04.02.15 at 11:16 am ET
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Joseph Morrow

Joe Morrow

The Bruins recalled Joe Morrow from Providence on an emergency basis Thursday.

Morrow will be available for Thursday night’€™s game against the Red Wings. The team had been carrying only six defensemen, so a callup was required to have an extra blueliner in the event that a defenseman was not available for a game.

The callup was made due to Torey Krug’s potential unavailability for Thursday. Claude Julien told reporters in Detroit that Krug was sick but was “probable” to play vs. the Wings.

It has been an interesting season for Morrow, who had played 15 games for Boston due to injuries on the back end earlier in the season. Both he and coaches observed that he performed better in the NHL than he had at the AHL level, but Morrow was eventually returned to Providence when the Bruins got players back from injury.

Since then, Morrow has been the victim of a couple of bad hits in the AHL, resulting in an upper-body injury and later a knee injury. He has been back playing for the P-Bruins since Feb. 27.

Morrow played mostly with Adam McQuaid when with the B’€™s earlier this season. He skated seven games with McQuaid, six with Dougie Hamilton and one game each with Torey Krug and Kevan Miller. He had one goal and no assists over his 15 NHL games, the first of his career.

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Bruins send Joe Morrow to Providence 12.20.14 at 1:00 pm ET
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Joseph Morrow

Joe Morrow

The Bruins sent defenseman Joe Morrow to Providence Saturday after scratching him for seven of the last eight games.

Morrow was recalled by the Bruins in late October to play in place of the struggling Matt Bartkowski. He stayed in the lineup as the Bruins dealt with injuries on the back end, but the B’€™s began scratching him earlier in the month.

The decision to take Morrow out of the lineup was somewhat perplexing given how well the former first-round pick was performing for the B’€™s, but the Bruins opted to stick with Zach Trotman and, at points, Bartkowksi. Trotman was scratched in Friday night’€™s loss to the Jets, but Bartkowski took his place rather than Morrow.

After being scratched for two of the Bruins’€™ four games on a West Coast road trip earlier this month, Morrow told he understood there was a chance he could be sent down given that the B’€™s had so many defensemen.

“It’€™€™s in the back of your mind; you know it is [a possibility],”€ Morrow said. “€œIt is a chess match. You know they’€™€™ve got to strategically do things to help this organization and to keep it intact. Whatever that may be, I know I’€™€™m a part of it and I’€™€™m here to help out, too, so if that’€™€™s the case that it does work out better that way, you can’€™€™t be mad or you can’€™€™t be disappointed about it. It’€™€™s just the way things are.”

In 15 games for the B’€™s, Morrow had one goal, no assists and a plus-3 rating in averaging 16:41 of ice time per night.

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Bruins should still make room for Joe Morrow 12.11.14 at 1:26 pm ET
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Joseph Morrow

Joe Morrow

Joe Morrow should be playing in the NHL. He might even be a guy worth making room for if you’€™re the Bruins.

Yet with the B’€™s finally getting their biggest piece back on defense and that room not being made, this could be the beginning of a prolonged stay in the press box or even a return to Providence for the twice-traded-yet-somehow-not-neurotic blueliner.

Even before Zdeno Chara was ready to return, the Bruins began scratching Morrow last week when they, for whatever reason, sat him in the middle two games of their four-game West Coast trip. It doesn’t seem Morrow has done anything to get himself benched, however. Since being recalled in late October, the 22-year-old defenseman was everything but rocky, which was the biggest concern about him heading in given his offensive tendencies. Getting decent minutes (he averaged 16:41) against other teams’€™ bottom-sixers, Morrow provided stability that Matt Bartkowski couldn’€™t earlier in the season. His decision-making was sound and he didn’t have major issues in coverage.

Now, Morrow understands those minutes may be harder to come by.

“Every day, even up here there’€™s still healthy guys most of the time, so it was an ongoing process of possibly being in and out, so there’€™s really not much to it,”€ he said. “You’€™ve just got to go out and practice and see where you fit in and wait for another opportunity, whether it be here or whatever they decide to do. You never know.

“€œThey keep you in the dark; they keep you out of everything and if you don’€™t let that get to you, you should be fine. Just stay positive and live every day.”

The level-headed Morrow is keeping surprisingly calm throughout the process. When the B’€™s took him out of the lineup, he didn’€™t become overly critical of himself or wondered what earned the benching, which is something young players experience frequently early in their careers.

“I guess at one point there’€™s a part where you’€™ve got to look at yourself and say, ‘€˜Oh, well did I do something wrong or is it just kind of [they’€™ve] got to get some other guys in the lineup, switch things up a bit?™'”€ Morrow said. “Personally, I didn’€™t take it to heart.”€

The Bruins can still make room for Morrow. Zach Trotman remains in the lineup, with Claude Julien saying this week that he’€™s felt Trotman has been the team’€™s best defenseman on certain nights. He also likes that Trotman is a right shot, though the Bruins have lefties in Dennis Seidenberg and Torey Krug who can move over to allow another lefty, such as Morrow, to enter the lineup. The B’s also shouldn’t be above sitting Kevan Miller at points if need be.

“€œWe’€™re going to have a healthier back end, which will allow us to out the best players in the lineup,”€ Julien said. “€œYou hear us say it all the time –€” it’€™s almost a cliche now –€” but healthy competition, right? That’€™s what it ends up being.”

Though coaches feel he has been a better NHL player than an AHL player, the possibility exists that Morrow could eventually fall victim to the waiver process and be sent to Providence. The B’€™s can send guys like Morrow or Trotman up and down without exposing them to waivers, which is not the case for other defensemen such as Bartkowski. Morrow knows he could be sent back down, but he would be understanding of the numbers game if it happened.

“€œIt’€™s in the back of your mind, you know it is [a possibility],”€ Morrow said. “€œIt is a chess match. You know they’€™ve got to strategically do things to help this organization and to keep it intact. Whatever that may be, I know I’€™m a part of it and I’€™m here to help out, too, so if that’€™s the case that it does work out better that way, you can’€™t be mad or you can’€™t be disappointed about it. It’€™s just the way things are.”

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Injuries mean jobs: Bruins’ young defensemen should seize moment like those before them 11.20.14 at 3:14 pm ET
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Joseph Morrow

Joe Morrow

Peter Chiarelli will probably never say how many NHL defensemen he thinks he has again.

Since saying that he felt he had nine this offseason, the number has been tested significantly. After trading one of them in Johnny Boychuk, Chiarelli has seen five of his defensemen get hurt in the first 20 games of the season. Of the nine NHL-caliber defensemen Chiarelli said he felt the Bruins possessed, the only three who haven’€™t suffered an injury this season have been Dennis Seidenberg, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski.

That is rough, rough stuff for the Bruins, but it does allow that list of NHL defensemen to get longer. Games played as injury replacements have been the avenue to the NHL for many of Boston’€™s young defensemen, with Hamilton really the only one who was actually given a job to begin his NHL career.

Adam McQuaid filled in for an injured Mark Stuart and took his job in 2011. Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski earned their sweaters in the 2013 postseason. Kevan Miller and Zach Trotman got their feet wet a season ago with injuries to various blueliners, while Joe Morrow initially came up to replace the struggling Bartkowski this season but will remain in the lineup in part because of Boston’€™s ailing back end.

Krug thinks that’€™s a respectable way to become an NHL player. He feels jumping in to replace a hurt player leaves less room for thinking, which is a good way to avoid mistakes for a young player.

“It doesn’€™t leave you time to think about what could happen or what could go wrong, because you’€™re the only option,”€ he said. “€œThey’€™re putting you in the game and you’€™ve just got to go out and do your thing. All the guys that have gone out and done so so far have taken the right mindset.

“€œThat’€™s the only reason I’€™m here right now, is because there was an opportunity with a couple guys hurt in the playoffs, and I [made] the best of it. I think these guys are doing a good job of taking these opportunities and running with it. It’€™s fun when you earn things like that.”

McQuaid had gotten off to a very encouraging start to this season coming off an injury-plagued 2013-14 campaign that saw him dress in only 30 games. With a broken thumb putting his season on hold for 6-8 weeks, the Bruins have to go back to their group of young defensemen for bigger and tougher minutes.

That won’€™t be easy, but given the job that Miller did replacing him last season and the play they’€™ve gotten from other young blueliners, the Bruins are confident they can handle the loss.

“€œIs it a silver lining? It is in a way because we really felt we had some good depth on the back end,”€ Claude Julien said. “I think it’€™s showing now. Whoever we bring up seems to be doing a decent job. A lot of guys that are here now are going to make it difficult for us when it’€™s all said and done. There’€™s a pretty good competition going again on our back end.”

Morrow, a 2011 first-round pick, has proven to be a better NHL player than he was an AHL player. Trotman, meanwhile, was replaced by Bartkowski on Saturday and eventually sent to Providence, but now he’€™s back with the NHL club. Neither player was on Chiarelli’€™s unofficial list of nine this summer, but they can add their names to it with strong performances.

Given their injuries, the Bruins’€™ list of NHL-caliber defensemen isn’€™t anything like what it was in the offseason, but as players return to the lineup, the B’€™s could eventually find themselves at a point where they have more guys capable of handling NHL minutes than they did immediately after trading Boychuk.

“I think that number’€™s grown,”€ Krug said. “€œYou’€™re witnessing Joe come in and do a great job, and Trots is getting the experience and he’€™s doing well. I think that number’€™s getting higher and higher. Hopefully at some point, we have that many guys that the coaching staff has to make a decision who to play.”

Read More: Joe Morrow, Kevan Miller, Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug
Switch to Joe Morrow a big reason why Bruins have survived without Zdeno Chara 11.11.14 at 1:07 pm ET
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Joseph Morrow

Joe Morrow

WILMINGTON — The Bruins are now 6-1-0 without Zdeno Chara. They’€™re also 5-0-0 with Joe Morrow in the lineup instead of Matt Bartkowski.

The latter point isn’€™t a shot at Bartkowski, a good player whose struggles with his game and his confidence led him to the press box for the time being, but it does tell part of the story as to why the Bruins have improved defensively over the course of this stretch without their best defenseman.

Paired with Adam McQuaid, Morrow, a 2011 first-round pick, has been safe. For a team that had been looking up to tighten up defensively, that’€™s all the B’€™s could have wanted. Like Bartkowski, Morrow is a good skater and passer, but Bartkowski’€™s decision-making and defensive coverage were uncharacteristically poor in his five games this season. The Bruins called up Morrow after the team’€™s Oct. 28 loss to the Wild to replace Bartkowski.

Decision-making was one of the questions attached to Morrow when the Bruins got him from the Stars as part of the Tyler Seguin trade. Peter Chiarelli said the day of the trade that the B’€™s would be patient with the twice-traded player and give him the proper AHL instruction. That potential red flag that has been mentioned at points of his two-year-plus AHL career has yet to pop up.

In fact, Morrow has been told by former coaches who have watched his short stint in the NHL — Providence coaches among them –€” that he is a better NHL player than he is an AHL player.

“I don’€™t know exactly what that means, but when you when you have the company of these players around you and that’€™s what you’€™re playing with, you kind of raise your game match theirs and to contribute,” Morrow said. “You don’€™t want to let anyone in the dressing room down. You know it’€™s really important to win up here, so you give that little extra effort.

“€œYeah, I think I have a more suitable style to the National Hockey League than I do to the American Hockey League, but I guess time will tell if that’€™s really true.”

His coaches and former coaches aren’€™t the only ones who have been satisfied with what Morrow’€™s brought to the table. Tuukka Rask said that Morrow has brought some defensive stability to the B’€™s.

“€œI think he’€™s been playing really good and improving every game,” Rask said of Morrow. “Especially the past couple of games, I’€™ve really liked the way he’€™s played and played defense and carried the puck up the ice.”

Rask pointed to a third-period play Monday against the Devils in which Morrow’€™s positioning allowed him to break up a potential back-door scoring opportunity and skate the puck to safety.

“Things like that that people might not see,”€ Rask said, “I see and try to give them credit for it.”

All in all, Rask likes the way the team has looked defensively of late.

“Really good. Really good,”€ Rask said of the Bruins’€™ play in their own zone. “We’€™re eliminating chances we kind of want to eliminate and making little plays around the net and taking their sticks away and stuff. It’€™s paid off lately. I feel like we’€™re really taking steps in the right direction.”

Bartkowski is a better player than he’€™s shown and he will be better if and when he gets more games. His absence, however, has allowed the Bruins to get a look at another young defender and enjoy stronger defensive efforts.

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