That’s why Calgary’s product was signed for an eight-year, $ 50 million contract extension in September 2019.
And that’s why the Jets made Morrissey a substitute captain last season.
Whether it was the revolving door of defense partners he had this season, the pressure associated with having to try to stick to the new deal, or the increased responsibility that comes with anchoring a body. defense system that has undergone a massive overhaul over the past two years. seasons, there have been tough times for Morrissey to navigate his way.
But while some predicted the difficulties prematurely as foreshadowing a decline in his game, Morrissey was unshakable in his belief and this allowed him to return to the high level he had set for himself.
The culmination of those efforts led Morrissey to become one of the most important players on the ice as the Jets secured a four-game sweep against the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the Cup playoffs. Stanley.
“Individually I’ve always said that I just try to work on my game, keep improving every day and try to push myself to new things and keep improving,” Morrissey said. , who scored the tying goal in Game 3. and finished with four points in four games averaging just under 30 minutes of ice time in the series. “And that’s all I’m trying to do. It’s the playoffs, so everyone is trying to improve their game. This is the most important time of the year to be able to bring your best deals. “
It’s not always easy to do when an essential part of the job is playing against the best players in the opposition.
Sometimes that means ending up on the wrong side of a highlight lens.
While it does come with the territory, it doesn’t aid digestion, especially when things aren’t going well.
Rather than get bogged down in frustration, Morrissey dug and made his way through the tough stretches.
“For me, nothing has really changed,” Morrissey said. “But I’m just trying to bring my best game here in the playoffs, and I think that’s a big part of the playoffs, it’s an opportunity for everyone to step up and bring your best game.” and luckily the first round really did go. good for us.
“You work really hard and we’ve all worked really hard over the year to get in the position to be in the best shape possible. To be able to play for many minutes. Our defense as a whole was strong and exceptional throughout the first round, with great contributions from all. Physically, on an individual level, each player wants to have the opportunity to play as much as you can and sort of run with that. I certainly appreciate this opportunity.
True to form, Morrissey was quick to congratulate his defense partner and the rest of his blue line comrades for their participation in the first round, even when many of the questions asked were aimed at highlighting his individual game.
“It was an opportunity to play against two of the best players in the world,” said Morrissey, referring to his junior teammate Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. “I thought that as a team, we did a really solid job. (Dylan DeMelo) played really well. And as a partnership, we’ve found a new level of chemistry we’ve never had before. Not that it wasn’t there, but I think it just took it to another level. “
While Morrissey preferred to deviate, his teammates made sure that some compliments were sent to him.
“He was amazing all over the ice and made a difference in all areas,” said DeMelo. “Super confident and his skating was great and his stick was really good, ended a lot of plays and blocked a lot of shots. A leader from our background and a leader from our team, and he led every game and he played so well. Happy to be a partner with him and maybe help him out a bit, but I think on his own he did a great job. “
DeMelo’s defense partner wasn’t the only one joining the chorus.
“Excellent,” Jets forward Andrew Copp said when asked to describe Morrissey’s play in the first round. “This is often where you see 29 and 97 coming to you. They are two of the best players in the game. He did a great job against them five on five.
“Then for him he played offensively like he did – he created three big goals in the last two games that I can think of off the top of my head. It was a fantastic series for him. I’m sure he’s got a lot of confidence right now, as he should.
It’s easy to quantify the value of Morrissey playing with that level of confidence as the Stanley Cup Playoffs roll on.
“You don’t have to go and convince Josh that he played well. He is now a veteran who understands what he and Dylan have been able to do, ”said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “He had seven shooting blocks in the last game and also produced an offense. In the last few playoffs he and Jacob Trouba were in charge of the other team’s front row and that was almost everything we could hope for from them and he delivered. And then in this round he did both.
“He and Dylan did a terrific job on two of the top scorers in the world and also put some numbers up. We think he has a solid understanding of the evolution of his game. ”
It was less of a revelation and more of a comeback for Morrissey, who was a model of consistency early in his career in a complementary role while continuing to push for increased responsibility.
The impact of Morrissey’s reunification with DeMelo was undeniable.
DeMelo’s intelligence and decision-making dovetailed perfectly with Morrissey.
Their readings were precise, their positioning was exquisite, and their vision and passing ability have helped the Jets return the puck to the ice on countless occasions.
“I don’t know if it was a thing. We just played extremely hard, ”DeMelo said. “We were both very assertive in our game and we knew the game was coming and we didn’t hesitate. I think we just took it as a challenge and kind of wanted to prove to everyone that we could handle it – not just the two of us, but I think in the whole of D-body and all. a team.
“We heard that noise outside and thought we might ruin some people’s knockout pools. I think the guys really stepped up and took this opportunity and ran with it. (Connor Hellebuyck) was amazing, our group of forwards did an amazing job doing the right things and playing hard without giving easy ice.
If these things continue, the Jets could have another chance to ruin some more of those playoff pools, especially if a much-anticipated game with the Toronto Maple Leafs comes to fruition in the second round.