Horton masters the return game

479260.jpg

Horton masters the return game

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Nathan Horton is officially back to normal.

The powerfully skilled right winger got off to a slow start during the preseason as the Bruins exhibited some patience with a player who saw his season end due to a concussion last spring in the Cup Finals. Horton was given extra time to work himself into game shape, and that patience appears to have paid off. The No. 1 line winger assisted on Milan Lucics power-play goal in their 2-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden in their home preseason finale Thursday night, and it was a thing of beauty.

After Zdeno Chara had softened up the Ottawa penalty kill with a pair of big blasts from the point, Horton deftly feathered a pinpoint pass from behind the net toward Lucic waiting all alone in front. Lucic roofed a shot over Sens goalie Craig Anderson to put the Bruins on the board.

While the outcome didnt go the Bs way, Horton showed the same kind of fire that defined his stretch run during last years regular season and the playoffs that followed it. He was a little mean and plenty physical, and his level of offensive scoring seemed to coincide with the attitude flashed during any given game.

It was also a sign that Horton was healthy and feeling good and hes showed that feistiness in each of his two preseason appearances. He nearly decked the Habs' Andrei Yemelin during a skirmish in front of the net during the game in Halifax, and he quickly came to the defense of David Krejci Thursday night against the Senators.

There was no babying himself over concerns about concussions, and no signs Horton is worried about anything physically.

It's good to see. It's good to see him test out his competitiveness and that he's having no symptoms from that hit last year, said Lucic, his partner in crime on the Bs top scoring line. That's the way he plays. That pass, it's the exact same one as I got in Game Four against Philly last year. It was a great pass, right on the tape and I had an open net to shoot at because of a nice play by him and David Krejci.

The Bruins have witnessed so many worse case scenarios when it comes to concussions and their common complications, but theres been nothing but clear evidence that Horton has avoided all that entering a big second year with the Bruins.

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

Chara on slumping Bruins: Players shouldn't have to be told to work hard

Chara on slumping Bruins: Players shouldn't have to be told to work hard

BRIGHTON -- The on-ice portion of Bruins practice kicked off about an hour later than scheduled at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday morning.

The B's are reeling, having lost four games in a row for the first time this season after getting dumped by the Penguins, 5-1, in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. Their standing in the Atlantic Division, and the playoff picture, is tenuous at best with so many other teams holding games in hand over them, and it truly looks like they're going to slide out of the race if they can’t reverse their fortunes.

So Claude Julien, saying "desperate times call for desperate measures," summoned the players to a video session where flaws, mistakes, half-hearted efforts and bad systems-play was pointed out in front of everyone. The team then took the ice to iron out those problems in an hour-long practice that the embattled Bruins coach hopes will lead to better results in the final two games, against Detroit and Pittsburgh, before the All-Star break.

“He was showing details that we were doing well early on in the season to have success, and little things that we’ve gotten away from that we need to correct,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “We need to start doing them again. It’s a game of little details and we need to make sure we do them right.”

While Chara wouldn’t comment on the tone of the video session, it’s clear that things like effort, determination and desperation were probably talking points just as much as fine-tuning Julien’s long-held offensive and defensive systems.

“It’s commitment," said Chara. "That’s for sure, that we need to have everybody doing that. We shouldn’t . . . at this level, at this time of the season, [have to be] asking guys to work hard. We’ve got to make sure that everybody is working hard, and everybody is paying his dues to be in the lineup and earn a spot.

“That’s the No. 1 priority: You have to compete and you have to work hard. Usually when you do those things, good things happen. We’ve got to back to those little things [with] hard work, commitment and competing every shift.”

Will an honest, direct video session between head coach and players be the key to stopping the team’s most demoralizing stretch of the season, and lead to a prolonged winning streak? Only time will tell.

But the Bruins need something to get spinning in an entirely different direction.