Horton looking like the Horton of old

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Horton looking like the Horton of old

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- It was clear pretty early in Saturday nights win over the Islanders that Nathan Horton was fully engaged in the proceedings.

A particularly combative first period shift at Nassau Coliseum ended with the big right winger pushing and shoving with Isles scrapper P.A. Parenteau in front of the Boston bench -- a sign that Horton is locked in. In a surprise to exactly nobody Horton responded later in the first period with a power play goal off a Rick DiPietro giveaway, and helped get the ball rolling on Bostons 6-0 shutout victory of the Isles on their Long Island home ice.

We played a really good game with a good start, said Horton. In the third we came out straight, played good defense and were still hustling. Thats exactly what we wanted. We want to keep getting better, keep climbing and keep winning.

Horton finished with two points and four shots on net in 16:28 of action for the Bs, and was the best player on his forward line for the balance of the evening. Milan Lucic picked up a nice assist on Chris Kellys goal in the third period and David Krejci went scoreless for the Bruins, but Horton was physical and offensively involved throughout.

Thats when hes at his best, and Horton might have enjoyed his best game of the year thus far in Saturday nights smashing of the Islanders. Hes still one of the few Bs minus players still kicking around on the Boston roster after a tough start, but hes been a point-per-game player (four goals and four assists) in eight games during the month of November.

You see how he skates and how hes involved, thats the kind of impact that Nathan can have on our hockey club when hes at his best, said Claude Julien. Its nice to see him really turn the corner in the last couple of weeks, and hes really coming along. He just needs to keep it going.

The goal was a thing of beauty for Horton. DiPietro attempted to kill a penalty by fishing out a clearing attempt from behind his net and flipping it straight up the ice, but the puck landed right on Hortons stick by the blue line. Horton collected the puck and snapped it right back at the top left corner of the net while DiPietro scrambled to get back into position between the pipes.

Horton had no idea it was DiPietro at the heart of the egregious turnover, but he was more than happy to return it to sender for his sixth goal of the season.

I just came off the bench and was hoping somebody would throw it up the middle of the ice. I didnt even know it was him that threw it up there, said Horton. I just tried to get it toward the net when I got the puck.

Horton also picked up an assist after starting the transition play that ended with Chris Kellys third period goal, and he nailed the right post with a backhanded shot in the first period that could have easily been his second goal of the evening.

After a tremendously sluggish start to the season Horton now seems right on track with six goals and 13 points, and a willingness to win battles around the net after a tentative opening month. Thats the pre-concussion Nathan Horton that people have become accustomed to in Boston, and hes definitely back in business.

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo. 

*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other. 

*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week. 

*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches. 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda. 

*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out. 

*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL. 

*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that. 

 

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Zdeno Chara said he is “feeling better” after going through a full practice with the Bruins, but the captain won’t be making the one game road trip to Buffalo for Saturday afternoon’s matinee game vs. the Sabres. 

Chara was going through line rushes and battle drills with the rest of his teammates while practicing for the second day in a row, but made it clear that his lower body injury hasn’t been cleared for game action yet. 

“It’s day-to-day. It feels better…yeah. But it’s still day-to-day,” said a rather laconic Chara when it came to questions about his injury. “It would feel much better [to play] than it feels [not playing].”

Claude Julien said his 39-year-old defenseman has moved into true “day-to-day” status as he nears a return after missing what will be his sixth game in a row on Saturday afternoon, but that he isn’t quite ready to go just yet.

“[Chara] and [Noel] Acciari won’t be on the trip,” said Julien. “I think [Chara] is getting pretty close. When you see him at practice things are going pretty well for him. I think that the term day-to-day is fitting for him right now. A lot of times when we say day-to-day we don’t know whether it’s going to be two days, three days or even a week. But in his case I would say that day-to-day is really day-to-day now with him.” 

One thing the Bruins can be heartened by is that they’ve managed to survive without Chara: the B’s have gone 2-2-1 and allowed just nine goals in the five games since their No. 1 defenseman went down. They have been able to continue collecting points in sometimes ugly, workmanlike fashion. 

That gives the Bruins the luxury of not rushing their D-man along before he’s ready and gives some of their other defensemen added confidence that they can effectively do the job with or without their 6-foot-9 stopper.