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|26 января 2004
Morozov: 30 games, 0 goals, much angst - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
By Dave Molinari
It has been 30 games now. Seventy-two days. Precisely 463 minutes, 52 seconds of ice time. Fifty shots on goal.
Aleksey Morozov slumps over the Penguins's net in Ottawa after the Senators'
Todd White scored to add another minus to Morozov's plus/minus rating.
Not that anyone is.
No one, that is, except Penguins right winger Aleksey Morozov. And all his teammates and bosses who don't expect him to go 2 1/2 months between goals unless it's the middle of summer.
Morozov is one of the few Penguins with something resembling an offensive pedigree and, with a salary of $1.5 million, is paid more than any teammate who doesn't double as the franchise's majority owner.
And he receives more money, it is safe to assume, than the Penguins are happy to give a 26-year-old who has five goals in 45 games. Especially one who hasn't gotten once since 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 14, when Morozov beat Buffalo goalie Mika Noronen from the top of the left circle at 3:09 of overtime for a 2-1 victory at HSBC Arena.
That goal, the Penguins hoped, would propel Morozov toward a career year and, in the process, allow them to keep a straight face while talking about contending for a playoff berth.
Instead, it became one bookend for a slump that threatens to surpass -- and already is more exasperating than -- his 44-game drought in the 2000-01 season, when Morozov scored his first of the season Nov. 10 and didn't get No. 2 until March 23.
Already, Morozov said, this is the most frustrating stretch of his career, mostly because of all the quality playing time -- like on the power play -- he gets with this team.
When he lost his touch three years ago, Morozov was a complementary player; the Penguins' lineup was top-loaded with the likes of Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Alexei Kovalev, Robert Lang and Martin Straka.
Today, when the Penguins get nothing from Morozov, it falls to the likes of Tom Kostopoulos, Eric Meloche and Konstantin Koltsov to pick up the slack.
"Morozov's track record is that he's been a streaky goal-scorer," coach Eddie Olczyk said. "We need him to find a way to score a goal somehow."
Yeah, well, they might have a better chance of getting Morozov to find a cure for some insidious disease.
His confidence level is lower than his plus-minus rating (minus-18), and Morozov has dabbled in everything shy of black magic in an effort to improve his luck.
"I've messed with everything, changed everything," he said. "It still doesn't work."
He even has altered his stick pattern; the original just wasn't doing a very good job of launching pucks past opposing goalies.
"I ordered new [sticks]," Morozov said. "They haven't come yet. I'll play with the old ones."
He doesn't have much choice although, the way things have gone for him, Morozov could use a snow shovel and the results probably wouldn't be much different.
Center Rico Fata, who scored seven goals in one 10-game stretch earlier this season but has just one in his past 16 games, can empathize somewhat with Morozov, although his resume doesn't include a 20-goal season such as the one Morozov had in 2001-02.
But while he can understand altering game-day routines during a slump -- eating pregame meals in a different restaurant, or taking the dog for a walk at a different time -- Fata hasn't been tempted to swap his equipment for something new.
"I've been using that stuff for the last two years and I've had pretty good success," Fata said.
True enough, but it's worth nothing that he got a goal Jan. 1. That's a month and a half later than Morozov's most recent.
"If I went on a drought where I didn't score for 30 games," Fata said, "I'd think maybe it was my stick."
Despite his current dry spell, Fata has 11 goals, tying left winger Ryan Malone for the team lead. And he, as well as Morozov, is someone the Penguins count on to make regular contributions to the offense.
"For right now, we need those two guys to score," Olczyk said. "Those two guys, they could spark other guys."
The Penguins don't expect center Brian Holzinger, who got his first goal in 19 games in the Penguins' 6-5 loss in Ottawa Thursday, to be quite as much of a force in their offense, but he's looked to for more than one goal every quarter-season.
And Holzinger understands that, with so few of the Penguins' players having a history of producing points at this level, he and the others can't go AWOL from the scoresheet.
"We can't have guys go through prolonged slumps," he said. "Especially the guys who are supposed to score goals for us."
For guys such as Morozov and Holzinger, how they produce offensively during the final 32 games might determine whether the Penguins will offer them another contract. At least for anything close to their current salaries.
The stakes are a bit different for Fata, a 23-year-old with a chance to solidify his place as a major piece of the Penguins' rebuilding program.
"This is my first real opportunity to play on a consistent basis and
have the trust of my coaches," Fata said. "I don't want to ruin that."
28 октября. Morozov moving to top line - Post-Gazette
12 сентября. Интервью с Алексеем Морозовым - "Советский
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28 октября. Morozov moving to top line - Post-Gazette
12 сентября. Интервью с Алексеем Морозовым - "Советский Спорт"
15 марта. Алексей Морозов разрабатывает руку - Советский Спорт