Morris

Morris

BOSTON — When Claude Julien first took over as head coach of the Boston Bruins, defensemen Andrew Alberts and Aaron Ward were vocal about their slowness in adapting to the box-and-1 zone defense the bench boss wanted to play.

Luckily for the Bruins, newly signed blueliner Derek Morris doesn’t anticipate similar growing pains as his career in black and gold begins. The veteran isn’t predicting he’ll play perfect games as soon as he takes the ice in exhibition contests. But even during the club’s first on-ice practices of training camp today at TD Garden, he could tell his teammates’ commitment to the system would make it easier for him to fit in.

“I think because everybody does their job so well, you’re pretty much just learning by doing it. I think the system here is – I don’t want to say simple – but because our forwards work so hard, as a defenseman it’s an easier system to play,” he explained after practicing with Group A this morning. “You’re not rushing into the corner with your stick in the air, you’re going in stick first try make them pass over you or by you. I talk about back-pressure with our forwards. When our forwards come back that hard, as a defenseman you have an easy job to either stay up … or you back off and let your forward eliminate him.”

A system like Julien’s is also not completely foreign to Morris.

“In Colorado, Bob Hartley played it a little bit,” he said. “There was a little bit more pressure up by the forwards (on the forecheck), but he was really stressing the forwards come back hard to help out the D. If it was chipped in our side, our centerman was coming right behind us hard. So if we did get hit, he was there to pick up the loose puck. Just little things that get overlooked sometimes, these guys do it real well.”

In upgrading from Ward to Morris on the back end, the Bruins are hoping they’ll be able to move the puck even better out of their own end and generate even more of an attack. That will be easier to do as Morris learns his new teammates’ tendencies, which he said won’t take all that long either.

“You just watch who you’ve got. (Patrice Bergeron’s) great at what he does – finding little pockets, finding little holes. (Marc Savard’s) good at stand at those little soft spots behind their forwards,” said Morris. “As a defenseman, all you want if that guy pressures you you want that little out where you can make a nice little pass. So far that’s been one of the biggest things I’ve seen, is guys are in position. You don’t even have to look, you know they’re there and we’ll do a good job of getting it up to them quick.”