Sunday, May 23, 2021

Josh Morrissey: Two Autographed Cards

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I didn't post my usual NHL playoff predictions on my regular blog this year, so you'll just have to take me at my word that I'm not looking like Nostradamus right now...

The Winnipeg Jets taking their first game against the Edmonton Oilers didn't really make a dent in my prediction that the Oilers would win in 5, but their taking a 3-0 series lead looking for a sweep tomorrow - particularly when trailing 4-1 with 9 minutes left in the third in Game 3 - reinforces my belief that this team is built with great character (Blake Wheeler, Nikolaj Ehlers), is a deep offensive juggernaut (Mark Scheifele, Paul Stastny, Kyle Connor, Pierre-Luc Dubois) and has the best goalie in the game today (Connor Hellebuyck).

But the Oilers have the best player in the past 30 years (Connor McDavid) and Leon Draisaitl, who qiualifies as one of the five best forwards in the world right now as well - they supporting cast just hasn't been able to do what it takes to either steal or keep the lead in a game.

In their press conferences, Jets head coach Paul Maurice also looks not only more in control and better able to communicate his messages to his players (and the media), he also constantly adds value to his answers with tactical information or historical tidbits, whereas Edmonton's Dave Tippett looks like someone who once coached the Phoenix Coyotes.

The key play that got the Jets back in the game was Josh Archibald's dangerous and useless "tripping" (actually clipping the kees) penalty on rookie defenseman Logan Stanley, for which he'll get a hearing tomorrow, opening the possibility of a suspension which would facilitate Tippett's removal of his top checker from the next game.

Obviously, with a pair of goals including the goal that sparked the comeback and the overtime game-winner, Ehlers was celebrated as the game's hero, but Josh Morrissey, with an assist on Wheeler's 4-3 goal and the tying one just seconds later, both on similar plays where he took full control of the puck at the blue line to set up and maintain the attack, arguably had just as much impact on Winnipeg's comeback win. The defenseman had been blanked in the first two games of the series after a 21-point regular season (to go with 86 blocked shots, 78 hits and 25 penalty minutes). He had had back-to-back 31-point seasons before that, earning then cementing his place as the team's top defender.

It's odd to think he was a rookie not so long ago, as can be attested from card #282 from Upper Deck's 2016-17 MVP set, showing him wearing #36, meaning the picture was taken dring his lone NHL game in 2015-16:
He has since worn #44, as can be seen on card #NL-21 from Upper Deck's 2016-17 Overtime hockey collection and Next In Line sub-set:
It's a beautiful silver foil card, even though it appears as teal in the scan.

He signed them in thin blue sharpie in 2018.

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