Horton will be in the lineup for Game 2

Horton will be in the lineup for Game 2
June 15, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Even when a team feels like it's destined to win a title, that's not always necessarily the case.

(AP Images)

CHICAGO – After practicing for two straight days and looking no worse for wear after being forced to leave Game 1 with a left shoulder injury, Nathan Horton will suit up and play in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals Saturday night at the United Center. The B’s right winger went through a full morning skate, was shooting pucks with a free and easy motion, and pronounced himself fit to play Saturday morning in the visitors’ dressing room.

“I feel good. I think I’m in. I’m ready to go, and I’m excited,” said Horton. “I’m not in any pain. I feel good, and I’m ready to play. That’s it. I’m ready to get going here. Everything is good. I’m back, and I’m ready to go.”

Horton has seven goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games for Boston this spring, leads the NHL with a plus-22 rating and has been 1/3 of the most dominant forward line in hockey during the Stanley Cup playoffs. So it’s clearly a huge boon to the Black and Gold attack that he will be back in his rightful place, and up skating with David Krejci and Milan Lucic at puck drop Saturday night.

Horton wouldn’t address the specific injury, but he’s been playing through the entire playoffs with a left shoulder issue that’s likely to need surgery following the season. Horton was forced to leave Wednesday night’s game during an overtime power play when the left shoulder popped out of the socket while the right wing was jostling with Niklas Hjalmarsson in front of the net.  

His most recent flare up with the shoulder stems from a regular season fight with Jarome Iginla on April 20, and Horton has been managing the injury situation since that point. Given that knowledge, there is little reason to think Horton wouldn’t be able to bounce back after dealing with the same issue for the last two months.  

There’s clearly got to be some concern that the Chicago Blackhawks players will now target Horton’s left shoulder for the remainder of the series, but he’s done a good job of protecting himself and playing smart through the playoffs.

It’s part of the reason Horton only has 22 hits in 17 playoff games, and hasn’t been delivering crunching body checks while moving in on the fore-check with the punishing Milan Lucic.

Claude Julien said there was no hesitation about throwing him right back into the lineup, and the Blackhawks defense seemed to have no answer for a Krejci/Lucic/Horton combo that potted two goals in Game 1.