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Bruins gave Joe Morrow a chance, and he made most of it

Joe Morrow, shown vs. New Jersey in October, has appeared in five games this season.Getty Images

Joe Morrow spent three weeks on the sidelines, waiting, waiting, and waiting a little longer to get his chance.

“It’s a fight to stay in the lineup for me, and to produce and help this team win,’’ he noted Saturday night after he helped the Bruins log their 4-1 win over the Jets at TD Garden.

Morrow, still only 23 years old, made the key play, a pinch down the left-wing wall from his spot on defense, that set up Matt Beleskey’s goal and the 1-0 lead, 2:01 into the second.

Players who are in and out of the lineup like Morrow, scratched for 10 games prior to subbing in for Colin Miller last Sunday, often look to eliminate risk from their game. Risk often leads to mistakes, and boo-boos tend to limit ice time. Less ice, less chance to stay in the lineup, particularly for a guy jockeying between a No. 6 spot on the defense corps and a seat in the press box come game night.

“Realistically, I don’t have much to lose,” said Morrow, asked about the delicate balance between playing aggressively and wanting to remain a lineup regular. “It’s kind of a risk-reward thing. So I may as well risk it and try and produce — but it’s an educated risk.”


Morrow, acquired in the controversial deal that shipped Tyler Seguin to Dallas, entered the lineup for a couple of games in October, but it was his minus-2 performance against Montreal on Oct. 22 that convinced coach Claude Julien to scratch him when it was time for Adam McQuaid to come off the disabled list.

“His lack of playing well,” said Julien, asked Sunday what he hadn’t liked of his earlier two-game look at Morrow. “His game deteriorated as we went along, so it’s all of the above . . . whether it’s mistakes, whether it’s not as intense [as desired], not as sharp, and all the things that come with consistency.”


Morrow, who logged 15:46 of ice time Saturday as John-Michael Liles’s left-side partner, finished the night with the one assist and landed one shot on net. Julien also had him contribute 1:38 of his ice time as a penalty-killer.

In his three games back in the lineup, Morrow has landed six shots on net, has been a plus-1, and, perhaps most important, encouraged Julien to keep using him.

“He’s played three good games with us, so I’m happy with that,” Julien said. “There [had been] a drop in his play, the consistency, but we’ve addressed that, and to me he’s had three pretty strong games. That’s the encouraging part of a young player getting better for us.”

Morrow, on the books for $800,000, is the lowest-paid Boston defenseman. On target to be a restricted free agent in July, he needs playing time and numbers, be it for his next contact here, or wherever he may end up if the Bruins don’t believe he fits into their long-term plans.

Being scratched from games, Morrow noted, makes it difficult to improve, no matter how hard anyone might work. The greatest teacher is experience.

“You can relate it to college students,” Morrow said. “You come out of college and you want a job, but you don’t have any experience. And the only way to get experience is to get a job. So it’s kinda like that. They want someone with experience, to progress, and get better — but the only way to do that is to actually play games and get better and progress in games.


“So it’s a very unique situation, but that only means that once you get in the games you have to make the most of it, improve, and get consistent. That is definitely a huge piece of what I am trying to be as a hockey player.”

Pastrnak works out

Sunday’s late-morning workout at Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton brought only 11 players to the ice. David Pastrnak, who missed his second straight game Saturday due to an upper-body injury, skated on his own before his teammates hit the ice.

Julien reiterated that Pastrnak, the club’s top goal scorer (10), remains day-to-day and would not venture a guess as to whether he might play Tuesday against St. Louis.

“He skated today,” Julien said, “so I guess that means he is getting closer to joining the team.”

Tending to goaltending

Zane McIntrye was the lone goalie on the ice Sunday. He is likely to return to AHL Providence soon. Anton Khudobin, who missed three weeks with a hand/wrist injury, was in net Saturday night for the Wanna B’s and went the distance in a shootout win.

“From what I am told, his game got better as it went on,” Julien said when asked about Khudobin’s tuneup with Providence, his first action since sustaining the injury Oct. 24. “I guess a natural progression there.”


Just when Khudobin returns, Julien said, is a decision for upper management to make.

“Not up to me,” he said.

Line changes

Julien juggled his line configurations Saturday night, moving Beleskey up to second-line duty with David Krejci and David Backes. The move dropped Ryan Spooner from his left wing spot to a No. 4 center, flanked by Sean Kuraly and Jimmy Hayes. Dominic Moore centered a third line, with Tim Schaller and Austin Czarnik.

Julien said he wasn’t sure if he would keep those lines Tuesday night.

“I don’t know, actually,” he said. “I haven’t really gotten into that yet.”

Odds and ends

Hayes logged his 16th consecutive 0-0—0 Sunday night, but at least landed five shots on net in his 10:38 of work. He now has failed to score on any of his 29 shots on net . . . The Bruins outshot the Jets, 38-12, and the Jets’ total was the fewest shots the Bruins have given up this season. No surprise the Bruins also owned the faceoff dot, winning 39 of 56 puck drops for a whopping 70 percent success factor. Patrice Bergeron was a beast, winning 16 of 21 (76 percent). As of Sunday morning, Bergeron ranked sixth in the league for faceoff wins (205) . . . Brad Marchand scored for only the third time in 14 games Saturday, but the L’il Ball o’Hate remains the club’s top point getter (6-11—17), tied for 12th in league scoring through Saturday . . . One bitter wag in the media corps asked Julien, proud son of Ottawa, if he were to blame for scheduling the game up there against Senators on Thanksgiving. “Certainly wasn’t planned on my end of it,’’ he said, noting with a smile that Canadian Thanksgiving (annually in October) has come and gone. “By going to Canada, at least the restaurants are open, so the guys can eat, how’s that?”


Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at dupont@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.