Caps get spark from Ovie-Morrison-Knuble line

October, 15, 2009

You can just picture Brendan Morrison humming along to Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" when he took to the ice Thursday night centering Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble.

In his first game with the big guy, Morrison netted two assists on Ovechkin's two goals. Hey Brendan, kind of brings you back to the old days in Vancouver when you were flying in the middle of Todd Bertuzzi and Markus Naslund on one of hockey's most dangerous lines, right?

"Brought back some memories for sure," Morrison told from Washington, D.C., after his team's resounding 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. "It's the first game we've played together, and more than anything, I think as a team we just wanted to find some secondary scoring."

Great move, at least after one game, by Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. Seeing that Ovechkin's line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin was producing the bulk of the offense, he spread his stars around Thursday with Semin and Backstrom pairing up with Brooks Laich.

For Morrison, the plan was simple with Ovechkin.

"When you play with that guy, you just try to get him the puck. He's pretty phenomenal," said Morrison. "He creates something out of nothing all the time. With Knuble, he's going to do a lot of the dirty work, get to loose pucks, go to the front of the net. He's a smart player."

These are the kinds of moments Morrison had in mind last summer, when the Caps came calling on the free-agent center. It took him all of two seconds to say yes.

"Once I knew they were interested, for me there was no other option," said Morrison, who has six points (3-3) in seven games this season. "It's where I wanted to come. Just look at their roster, look at the talent on the wings -- it's deep with a lot of skill. It was an easy decision to come here."

He's a bargain at one year, $1.5 million, and he needed to be with Michael Nylander spending his days in the press box at a $4.875 million cap hit (the Caps are hoping a team in Russia will come calling for him).

In the meantime, Morrison feels refreshed in Washington, his fourth NHL stop in only three years. It's been a tough couple of years with injuries.

"It's the best I've felt in a long time, mentally and physically," said Morrison. "Last year [in Anaheim and Dallas], I came back from ACL surgery and everything was fine, but I just didn't have my legs, and that gets to you mentally and you start questioning yourself. But anyways, that's in the past. I had a good summer of workouts and I feel strong. I feel like my skating is back pre-surgeries. I'm having a lot of fun right now, to be honest with you."

The Caps snapped a four-game winless streak with Thursday's win. It's Stanley Cup or bust for these guys this season.

"That's the feeling, no question," said Morrison. "That's our goal. It's not really a secret. The team is right there. Obviously, there's depth up front, there's a good back end that's physical, and our goaltending situation is very solid. Both guys can come in and play, and that was evidenced tonight when Jose [Theodore] went down in the first period [with an undisclosed injury] and Varly [Semyon Varlamov] comes in and shuts the door. We're a real good team."

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer


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