Every step this week has been encouraging for Nathan Horton as he returns from missing nearly a calendar year of NHL hockey due to a concussion and the NHL lockout. That feel-good comeback party continued for Horton on Tuesday night as he came through everything looking good in Bostons 7-5 scrimmage loss to Providence in the Black and Gold scrimmage.
Horton didnt factor into the scoring as their lines only goal was an unassisted David Krejci strike when he intercepted a loose puck near the blue line. But Horton was moving with good speed, and more importantly, without fear.
I thought for Horton -- for a guy that hasnt played in a year -- he had good speed," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I thought the tempo of our game wasnt bad, but it was more the execution and the decision-making that really hurt us a lot. We werent moving the puck as quickly as Id like to see it. We werent moving it as effectively.
There are times that were a team that really has to grind teams out to have success and I think we were trying to be even cuter than we were grinding it out to try to win. Those are things that well have to understand going into Saturdays game.
Its clear that after Horton went down last season the Bruins struggled both offensively and on the power play in the final 36 regular season games, and during the playoffs. In order to get the Bruins back to their deep, unrelenting attack Horton needs to be in his place on the right wing alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic. The scrimmage was a first good step for the 6-foot-2, 229-pounder, and he now feels ready to go for this weekends season opener.
Horton took a few hits and threw a few out, so theres really no hurdles left to clear taking his customary spot.
It was good. I feel like Im in pretty good shape. It was different than playing in practice or doing a drill, said Horton. Its nice to be able to have a game situation before we go into the real game.
Im just going with it. Im not trying to think too much. I just want to have fun. When Im having fun and smiling and enjoying myself, things happen. Its usually good for me.
Horton was left beaming ear-to-ear after Tuesdays scrimmage despite the loss, so thats got to be considered the best news yet as Horton continues to full, complete return from concussion problems.