Horton looking to pick it up after slow start


Horton looking to pick it up after slow start

By Joe Haggerty

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

Saturday, Jan. 21: McKenzie on Julien's job security

Saturday, Jan. 21: McKenzie on Julien's job security

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while proud of my wife and daughter participating in today’s Women’s March.

*This is from a few days ago, but Bob McKenzie weighing in on the prospects for Claude Julien and his job security is always worth checking out.  

*The New York Rangers have themselves a rookie named Pavel that’s doing a pretty darned good job for the Blueshirts.

*What should the St. Louis Blues do with Kevin Shattenkirk as the trade deadline approaches and the seven-year, $49 million contract waiting for him in free agency is pretty daunting?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Allen has a list of underperforming NHL stars, including Jamie Benn and Jonathan Toews, that may have been impacted by the World Cup of Hockey. Certainly Patrice Bergeron could have made this list as well.

*Blackhawks backup goalie Scott Darling may be earning some more playing time after the way he performed against the Bruins, according to Pro Hockey Talk.

*Good news with Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson set to return to the team in a couple of weeks after tending to his wife in a battle against cancer.

*The struggles of Anthony Duclair with the Arizona Coyotes mirror the team’s issues this season as well. It’s interesting that Duclair has popped up in trade rumors with the Desert Dogs this season.

*For something completely different: the final Wolverine movie with Hugh Jackman is going to be extremely emotional with its characters.


Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

BRIGHTON, Mass – While both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller were missing from Bruins practice on Saturday morning, both injured Bruins defensemen could be rejoining the team soon.

Colin Miller skated on his own prior to Saturday’s team practice at Warrior Ice Arena for the second or third time since suffering a lower body injury in the win over the St. Louis Blues. Claude Julien said his presence on the ice was proof that the puck-moving defenseman is “definitely on the mend”, and could be nearing a return to practice soon with Sunday marking the sixth straight game that he’ll have missed.

Kevan Miller is out with a concussion suffered last weekend in the win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and the B’s current three-game losing streak has coincided with his absence from the lineup.

Julien said Miller has actually been away from the team for the last couple of days while dealing with a virus, and that his recovery from the concussion symptoms was good prior to being knocked down by the illness.

“Kevan was actually feeling really well and then he got hit by a virus that’s kept him in bed for the last two days,” said Julien. “It’s nothing to do with his original injury. There was a possibility he could have been ready very soon, but that’s set him back a bit.”

Both are obviously out for Sunday’s matinee against the Penguins, but a return to practice at some point next week seems like a good bet for both players. Here are the line combos and defense pairings from Saturday’s practice with the Bruins focusing on getting a good result in Pittsburgh with the hockey club on a “mom’s trip” with 22 of the players’ mothers traveling with the team to and from the game: