Horton skates in practice, says he's 'ready'

Horton skates in practice, says he's 'ready'
April 30, 2013, 2:30 pm
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BOSTON -- Nathan Horton couldn’t hide the smile from his face as he went through a full practice, and appeared ready to go for Game 1 of the playoffs starting Wednesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Horton was wearing the white practice jersey and skating in his customary spot on the right wing alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic at Tuesday’s practice at TD Garden after missing the last five games and 10 days of the regular season. The right winger indicated he’s probably in the lineup, but Bruins head coach Claude Julien was being a little more cautious in his assessment.

“He practiced for the first time with the team today, and we’ll see how he is tomorrow before we make that decision,” said Claude Julien. “I thought he was playing really well before he was pulled out of the [Pittsburgh] game. Since then I think he’s been really excited about coming back. He skated well today, so right now, if he’s good to go, I hope to see the same player that left the ice [with an injury].”

Horton sat out with an upper body injury suffered in a fight with Jarome Iginla on April 20 in a game where the nasty had seemingly returned to his game.

Now Horton has a chance to pick up where he left off, and help out a sputtering Bruins offense as their third leading goal-scorer (13 goals) and one of four Boston skaters that finished with over 100 shots on goal.

“I wished I didn’t get hurt and missed those last few games. We’re playing a little better, but we’re not scoring right now and we’re not putting teams away,” said Horton, who had put up seven goals in his final 12 games of the regular season before he suffered the injury. “But that’s in the past now, and we want to bury chances when we get to give us bigger leads."

“I’m ready [to play]. I want to help out. I want to be a contributor. It wasn’t fun to watch the playoffs last year. This is the most fun time of year, and it will be nice to have another long run again.”

Horton also gets a chance to once play the playoff hero as he did in tallying Game 7 game-winning goals in two postseason rounds during Boston’s run to the Cup two years ago. It’s almost perfect timing given that he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season is over, but Horton said his own contractual situation “is nothing that I’m thinking about next year. I’ll be playing hockey, and that’s what matters.”

“Nobody really cares about what happened a year ago, or two years ago. This is different. It’s exciting, and you can really feel the energy from the crowds walking into different buildings,” said Horton. “You try your best, and even when things don’t go your way you know you’re right back at it in a day or two. Guys were really looking forward to this after a “long” short season. It’s nice to be in games where it really counts.”

It will also be nice for the Bruins to start the playoffs featuring three of the four lines that they started the season with as the Bergeron line, the Krejci line and fourth line, or the Campbell Line for symmetry’s sake, all look like they’ll be fully intact on Wednesday night.

But for Horton, it will just be nice to be back in the playoff mix as both player and his team missed the power forward’s services last season in their first round fall to the Washington Capitals.