Slumping Horton: Lots of work, not much luck

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Slumping Horton: Lots of work, not much luck

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON -- Nathan Horton hasn't scored since Jan. 3. Before that, he hadn't scored since Dec. 11.

In case you don't have your schedule in front of you, that's one goal in his last 17 games.

And it's not as if the scoring chances aren't there. Horton's had plenty, especially since Marc Savard's play has improved by the game. That was no more evident than on Thursday night, as Savard set Horton up for a breakaway in the opening minutes of the Bruins' 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Horton came in all alone on Ryan Miller, after receiving a pretty bank pass off the left boards from Savard.

A confident Horton would have tried to pick a corner with a snap shot. Instead, the struggling Horton -- who admitted to possibly thinking too much -- decided to fake a shot and deke left, only to be stopped by Miller's extended right pad.

Horton didn't talk to the media after the game, but did answer questions about his scoring drought after practice on Friday at Ristuccia Arena.

"I've had a lot of chances, and it's just not going in," said Horton. "It's definitely frustrating, but there's nothing I can do except keep working hard. I made a couple mistakes there last game, and it's my bad. I take responsibility for that. It's my fault. Just try to cut back on those, and hopefully start producing.

"There's nothing else to do, other than just keep working hard," he said. "They're eventually going to go in, I think. I've never been like this before, but I've never worked this hard either, so maybe I'm working too hard. Just kind of relax and let it come. Just try to have some fun out there."

Horton has 12 goals this season. Before being traded to Boston from Florida this past offseason, the 25-year-old winger had his fair share of critics, who claimed he disappeared at times during the regular season.

Some thought those disappearing acts would go away once he was traded to a contender. And while, right now, pucks aren't going in for him, Horton was adamant that this type of disappearing was for a different reason:

The effort is there, but the luck isn't.

"I am getting chances, and I am trying," said Horton. "They're just not going in. It would be nice to get some luck, and get a bounce, but it just hasn't been that way. I've just got to look ahead and look towards the next one. Hopefully it does go in, and it would be nice to just get it out of the way."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Haggerty: Legacies on the line at edge of another Bruins collapse

Haggerty: Legacies on the line at edge of another Bruins collapse

BRIGHTON, Mass – Let’s start with the straight fact that it’s asinine, apologist drivel to let the Bruins off the hook, and perpetuate an off-the-mark myth there isn’t enough talent on the B's roster to be a playoff hockey team.

They are middle-of-the-road in the talent department to be sure, and the roster depth clearly isn’t what it was in their elite years, as the Bruins balance an aging core group with an influx of youthful talent from the next generation. But this is also a proud, talented group with one of the best all-around centers in the NHL in Patrice Bergeron, a former Norris Trophy winner and future Hall of Fame defenseman in Zdeno Chara, a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate and in-his-prime All-Star left winger in Brad Marchand, an emerging 20-year-old offensive superstar in David Pastrnak and a former Vezina Trophy winning goaltender still in his prime in Tuukka Rask.

That doesn’t even mention high-end players David Krejci, David Backes and Torey Krug that are game-changing talents in their own right.

Combine that with the other players on the Bruins roster and this is a team interspersed with proud Stanley Cup winning players and enough talent to still take care of business in the final eight games and punch their playoff ticket. Winning a Cup in 2011 can never be taken away from Chara, Krejci, Bergeron, Marchand, Rask and Adam McQuaid, and neither can the seven straight seasons in the playoffs under Claude Julien.

But there’s a danger now of some late-in-the-game tarnish on Black and Gold legacies for some of those distinguished, proud players if they once again collapse down the stretch this season and miss the playoffs for the third year in a row with a late-season nosedive. Four consecutive regulation losses have cast doubt into everything for the Bruins and roused all the same old uncomfortable questions from the past three years.

Bergeron and Marchand need to find their best games and dominate the way elite players do in big-game situations like Saturday night vs. the Isles. Pastrnak, Brandon Carlo and Frank Vatrano need to show they're ready for the playoffs.Rask needs to finally show he's ready to shine as a No. 1 goalie and lead his team to victory in a big game rather than buckle under weighty pressure. 

“This is their legacy, those guys. They are Stanley Cup champions and they missed last year. Each year we talk about writing our own story, and I believe that because guys come and go,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “But generally there is a core group of guys and it’s their legacy. I’m sure they want to reach the playoffs and get back to being a Stanley Cup contender every year.

“That’s what they want and to a man I’m sure they would tell you that. I do believe that they believe it’s different [this season]. Until you change the course of your results, those questions are going to come. We have to change the results to make then go away. One week of not getting results that we want doesn’t mean we’re panicking, but we do understand what’s at stake. We want to be playing in April and May.”

If the Bruins can’t pull out a win on Saturday night against the Islanders, who just pushed even with them at 82 points on the season, then their playoff lives will no longer be under their own control anymore. It will become another late-season choke job by a team that will have its character and courage questioned. The highs of six years ago will be matched by the bitter lows of the past three seasons.

People won’t talk about a scrappy, little underdog Bruins team that just couldn’t get over the hump once again. Instead, they’ll lament a formerly proud, tough-minded group of hockey players that somehow turned into NHL tomato cans all too willing to play the victim once the going got tough late in the regular season.

That’s no way to go out if you’ve ever had your name etched on Lord Stanley’s Cup, and the Bruins that know better should be taking that to heart right now.