The Vancouver to Southern California underground hockey railroad has not been a productive venture. To date, it has transported damaged goods south.
There was Canucks’ goaltender Dan Cloutier, who joined the Kings in 2006 after playing only 13 NHL games the previous season. He was gone after two seasons.
There was Todd Bertuzzi, who signed with the Ducks last season after sitting out much of 2006-07 because of back problems. He scored 14 goals and was not re-signed.
Brendan Morrison is trying to get off that track, though it is a course change that has been difficult to make. Morrison, who suffered a torn knee ligament in March and signed a $2.75-million contract in July, has two goals and four points.
Morrison did not play against Dallas on Saturday. It was the first time he has been held out of a game as a healthy scratch since Feb. 25, 2000, when he was with the New Jersey Devils.
“It doesn’t sit well,” Morrison said about the benching. “Am I upset about it? Yeah. As an athlete, the day you aren’t upset when you’re not in the lineup is the day you shouldn’t be playing the game.
“I feel I have something to contribute to team. It’s early in the season, but it’s time to get going and start making a difference.”
Coach Randy Carlyle said the decision to sit Morrison was made in part because the Ducks were playing the second of consecutive games, but also because Morrison “didn’t do much with the puck” in the previous game, against the St. Louis Blues.
That has been a recurring theme much of this season, as Morrison has struggled to fully recover from knee surgery in April. He started the season with a goal-less streak of 15 games.
“It’s not a pain issue. More than anything I’m missing out on a little strength,” Morrison said. “The knee hasn’t bothered me. It gets tight at times and stiff. As far as having a scare on the ice, I’m not worried about it. What I’m worried about is getting my game back. The first 15 games, I had one game where I felt good.”
Morrison said that has improved recently. He had two goals and one assist during a recent four-game stretch. He was also dropped to the fourth line for Friday’s game against St. Louis.
“We’ve seen spurts,” Carlyle said. “The one thing that has happened is he has to get to the puck and strip people of pucks and whatnot. He hasn’t been able to quite get there. He’s a half step off. He’s frustrated with it. He puts more pressure on himself than anybody.”
Carlyle said Morrison would return to the lineup for the Ducks’ game against the Colorado Avalanche tonight at the Honda Center.
Forward Brian Sutherby has not been able to skate since suffering a groin injury against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.
Sutherby said it would be “a couple more days” before he was ready to skate.
vs. Colorado, 7
Site -- Honda Center.
TV-- Channel 56.
Radio -- 830.
Records -- Avalanche 9-10-0, Ducks 11-8-3.
Record vs. Avalanche (2007-08) -- 3-1-0.
Update -- The Ducks are meandering through a 2-2-2 stretch. Scoring diversity has been a problem. The Ducks have scored 15 goals in the last six games, but only five when Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry were off the ice. Colorado will probably be without injured forward Joe Sakic and defenseman Adam Foote.
-- Chris Foster