Morrison the man

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:50 PM ET


 VANCOUVER -- To an outsider, he's often viewed as a third wheel.

 He's rarely looked at as an integral part of Vancouver's top line, jammed between Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi.

 However, Flames fans are learning Brendan Morrison is more than just part of the mix.

 Arguably the best Canucks player to this point in the playoff series, Morrison is proving he wasn't just given that top-line status thanks to a bingo drawing.

 "A lot of people thought he was the best centre we had, so he just got to go there but he's a big reason that line does well," said Matt Cooke, who's replaced Bertuzzi on the top line since what's known in these parts as The Incident.

 "He's underrated."

 Not for long.

 Of the Canucks, Morrison is certainly the player who's had an impact every game in this series.

 "When The Incident happened with Todd, it's not like we got together and said, 'Let's go and prove to people we can still score or be effective offensively,' " Morrison said. "It just comes with the territory. Our job is to provide offence so you just go out there and do your job.

 "Pucks have been going in for us but we're not satisfied. We've got to keep going because it's a long haul and you can't get complacent."

 Certainly, the dynamic has changed for the top unit since Bertuzzi's suspension.

 Having replaced the Incredible Hulk with Cooke -- more known for tenacity and grit than size and skill -- they're forced to play something more of a finesse game.

 All parties on the top line are listed as being 5-ft. 11-in. and Cooke's the heaviest at 205 lb., surrendering 40 lb. to Bertuzzi.

 "With Todd, we had the big physical presence on the wing and he was the guy who liked to carry the puck and beat guys one-on-one because he could do it," Morrison said. "Our line now is more of one that moves the puck and jumps into holes using our speed. We use each other really well and with Cookie, he does an excellent job getting in on pucks and recovers a lot of pucks."

 Which, in a funny way, works better for Morrison's style of play. Extremely quick on his feet and extremely adept at seeing-eye passes, Morrison is at his best when using motion to elude defenders.

 And with Bertuzzi sidelined, Morrison's handling the puck much more now and controlling the flow of play.

 "Having the puck more makes you feel a little more involved."


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