Horton looking to pick it up after slow start

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Horton looking to pick it up after slow start

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON Nathan Horton is feeling just fine. His unimpressive start to the season has nothing to do with clearing cobwebs or being tentative after suffering a concussion last June at the hands of an Aaron Rome headshot.

The Bruins right winger has struggled out of the gate this season and seemingly looked out of synch since training camp, and has completely disappeared in the first three games of the season. Horton has totaled a single shot on net and zero hits in three games for the Bruins, and hasnt been a physical presence or offensive threat thus far this year.

Horton, of course, showed himself to be a very streaky player during his first season in Boston, and the good stretches came at just the right time with a couple of Game 7 winners during the playoffs.

Milan Lucic shouldered some of the responsibility for Hortons sputtering open to the season, and felt that both he and his center could do a better job setting up their powerful right wing with improved opportunities. But the Bs power forward said he checks in with good friend Horton on a regular basis to see how hes feeling, and any downturn in production has nothing to do with residual effects from last year.

In my eyes Horton has always played really well. Personally I feel like we havent found him enough or passed the puck to him in areas where hes most dangerous, said Lucic. As a linemate thats what me and our centermen need to do better so that we can make him more dangerous.

I talk with him a lot about coming back from the concussion to see how hes feeling, and hes feeling good. Hes going out there and trying, and I think from a line standpoint we need to step it up a little, play with a little more feistiness and bang, and that becomes contagious.

Claude Julien mentioned potentially breaking up Bostons No. 1 line after Mondays shutout loss to the Colorado Avalanche given the sluggish season opening, but its thought the coachs words were meant more as a spark for Horton and Milan Lucic.

The Bs coach was instead preaching patience with his big bookend wingers prior to Wednesday nights game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Its a work in progress and some guys find their games more quickly than other to start the season, said Bruins coach Claude Julien. Its a work in progress.

With David Krejci injuring his knee during Tuesdays practice, however, it appears the Bruins will be making some changes to the top line out of necessity rather than shake things up.

It remains to be seen how Horton and Co. respond if Tyler Seguin is given the promotion to centering the top line between the big bookend wingers. But it cant be much worse than the last three games from Horton now can it?

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins still in waiting mode on Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Anders Bjork

Bruins still in waiting mode on Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Anders Bjork

BRIGHTON, Mass – While the NHL debut for Charlie McAvoy is a matter of “when” rather than “if” at this point after agreeing to an Amateur Tryout Contract (ATO) with the Boston Bruins, the jury is still out on Boston University center Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and University of Notre Dame winger Anders Bjork become pros. 

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney says that Forsbacka-Karlsson has yet to make a “final decision” on his status for next season after BU’s elimination from the NCAA hockey tournament, and Bjork is readying for the Frozen Four this weekend along with the rest of his Fighting Irish teammates. The 20-year-old Forsbacka-Karlsson just wrapped up his sophomore season with the Terriers and posted 14 goals and 33 points in 38 games with a plus-11 rating, and has not given the Bruins any firm word on his plans for the immediate future. 

The urgency perhaps isn’t there for the Bruins to lock things up with Forsbacka-Karlsson right this second, because he wouldn’t be a factor for this year’s NHL team. 

Meanwhile the Bruins can’t do anything with the 20-year-old Bjork until at least the end of next weekend, but have been mightily impressed with a player that’s posted 21 goals and 52 points in 38 games for Notre Dame this season. Bjork had three assists in the game that propelled Notre Dame into the Frozen Four, and there would be a great deal of urgency for the Bruins to lock up a talented forward that might be able to help them right now. 

“I’ve been able to see [Bjork] a few times including the regional [in New Hampshire] last weekend, and he was outstanding. He played every other shift, he set up goals in the game and he’s had a really nice progression as a college player this season,” said Sweeney of the explosive Notre Dame junior, who was far and away the best player at B's development camp last summer. “They’ve done a fabulous job with their team, and hopefully they get to the Finals on Saturday against Harvard, and we get the best of both worlds seeing how our prospects play in the final game. He’s had a tremendous college career to this point, and we’re excited about his development.”

McAvoy is the front-burner issue for the Bruins at this point, but it would surprise exactly nobody if both Forsbacka-Karlsson and Bjork join him in Providence in the next couple of weeks as they wrap up their AHL season.