KANATA, ON Those banking on a Nathan Horton return to the Bruins during the playoffs may be waiting for a while.
While there was a hubbub of excitement over the news that he skated for more than 30 minutes on his own Wednesday prior to Bruins practice, the truth is that Horton is no closer to a return than he was last week. Claude Julien was asked after practice how Horton responded to Wednesdays twirl on the ice, and he immediately slammed on the brakes.
"Don't read into the fact that he skated, cautioned Julien. He's not even close to situation where you guys might think he is for a return."
The Bs power forward has missed 34 games and six weeks of action since suffering a concussion at the hands of a blindside Tom Sestito hit on Jan. 22 and a source close to Horton indicated toCSNNE.comthat the right winger wasnt likely to return during this postseason.
Heres a couple of reasons why: Horton is still weeks away from potentially practicing withhis teammates and even if he didnt have a single setback wouldnt be ready to go until the final few rounds of the playoffs. It would be unrealistic to think that a tentative, healthy Horton would be a better option than battle-hardened Bruins wingers that made it through the first few postseason rounds.
To put it in further perspective: the year Patrice Bergeron suffered his serious concussion and harbored hopes of returning for the playoffs, he had been skating hard since the beginning of March. He might have been ready for the second round.
Horton has taken one leisurely-paced skate to see how his nagging post-concussion symptoms would respond.
Theres also this startling fact: if Horton were to return in this springs playoffs for the Bruins and suffer another concussion as the nastiness increases with each postseason round, it would be the third major head injury for the 26-year-old in less than a full year.
Thats the kind of risk that can put a players entire future at risk and its the kind of mistake the Bruins made in rushing Marc Savard along for the postseason two years ago against the Flyers.
The Bruins would be making the same kind of error in rushing Horton back because hed had a few good weeks. So the notion that Horton is giving it a crack to come back for the playoffs isnt entirely accurate.
Horton is giving it a crack at returning to full health, and the hope is that the right winger will be back to smiling, scoring goals and giving Boston a power forward capable of potting 25 goals on the right side of Milan Lucic and David Krejci.