NEWARK Now that the month of December is over, perhaps Nathan Horton can get on with the rest of his season.
In two seasons with the Bruins, he has suffered offensive outages around the holiday season that are eerily familiar. Last year Horton managed only six points (3 goals and 3 assists) in 14 games during December, and this year the Bs right winger scored the exact same breakdown of six points (3 goals and 3 assists) during the month of December.
Im not scoring every night, but I want to get better and I want to score. I am fighting it a little bit, said Horton. This happens during the year. Its a long year, but the thing is that were winning games. If one or two lines arent going then the other two are this year, and thats the way things are going.
With the month now officially over, Horton busted out with a power play goal that also wound up as the winning score in Bostons 6-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.
It was little more than a tap-in after David Krejci feathered a pass across the front of the net to Horton waiting by the left post, but thats the kind of goal that could set Horton off on a goal-scoring spree.
It feels good to score. Its nice when you have four lines going so when things are going well for you one game then other lines stepped up, said Horton. I think our line played pretty well, played hard, worked to get the puck and created chances.
We wanted to come out hard, play strong and we knew this was a big, physical team. We just want to keep it going.
One thing the Bruins would like to see more of that could set Horton on his way: a greater degree of offensive assertiveness with more shots fired on the net.
Horton managed only one goal in his last seven games headed into Wednesday nights romp over the Devils, and during that time hed managed a measly seven shots on net. For a player with the powerful size and skill package like Hortons, thats just not nearly enough offensive impact.
He scored a goal, but I still think hes a player capable of giving more. Physically I think he needs to be a little more involved and if he does that it will help his game. Its got to start coming from him, said Claude Julien. Hes still not a bad player. He scores a goal and he puts himself into some good situations, but Id like to see him shoot the puck more.
Hes a great shooter, but he seems to be looking pass more than shooting the puck right now. Its going to come and were going to make sure it comes for him.
He still managed only the one successful shot against the Devils for a power play goal, but the hope is that gets the right winger moving on the right track.
Horton is on pace for 23 goals and 52 points this season, and thats a little bit less than the Bruins were hoping for after watching him become a Game 7 hero against the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning last year. Perhaps the Vancouver Canucks game on Saturday can bring out Hortons physical game after his season ended with a concussion caused by an egregious head shot in the Cup Finals.
But Horton said the first game back against the Canucks since last years concussion didnt mean any more to him, and that was especially true with Aaron Rome looking like hell miss the contest with a wrist injury.
Not really. I dont even think Rome will be playing against us. Its obviously big for us to be playing them for the first time since the Finals, and it will definitely be a big game, said Horton. But other than that itll just be a big game to show that we can beat them again. Theyre a good team.
Perhaps a budding rivalry with a good team like the Canucks is exactly what the doctor ordered for Horton.