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

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Anton Blidh plans on keeping things pretty straightforward on his first call-up to the NHL. 

The former sixth-round pick of the Bruins has earned his stripes at the AHL level with Providence over the last couple of seasons, and comes to Boston as a gritty, energy forward capable of stirring things up in otherwise sleepy games. There’s also a bit of offensive upside for a fourth line-type player with five goals and nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season. 

It remains to be seen if the Blidh call-up means that the Bruins intend to scratch a player or that somebody is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game in Buffalo, but Patrice Bergeron did miss Friday’s practice without any real defined reason for his absence. The 21-year-old Swede said he plans to play to his strengths if he gets into the lineup for the Black and Gold, and that could mean getting under the skin of his Sabres opponents. 

“It’s my first time called up, so I’m happy,” said Blidh, who was asked what he'll bring if he gets into the lineup. “I’ll just play simple and play my own game: be hard on the puck and play with some energy. I worked hard [in Providence] and then I got some confidence. I’m not a goal-scorer, but I scored a couple of goals and got some confidence.”

Claude Julien hasn’t been able to catch up Blidh’s work since the season got started, but was pleased by the youngster’s progress in training camp, where he earned notice for his feisty, physical play on a line with Noel Acciari. 

“They said he’s playing well, so they brought him up. We’ll get to see him, hopefully tomorrow,” said Julien. “I didn’t hear a ton of fine details aside from him being a guy that was certainly playing with a lot of energy. I didn’t mind him in training camp either. He works really hard and competes hard, and we could use that.”

That would certainly be the case after watching the Bruins go through the motions for long stretches Thursday night against Carolina before essentially stealing a game that they didn’t deserve to win. 

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.