Notes: Horton steps into spotlight

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Notes: Horton steps into spotlight

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Nathan Horton always has a smile on his face, kind words, and a polite thank-you for just about everyone he meets in life.

Theres been a little more of Game Face Horton as things got closer to the playoffs, but that was to expected from a guy who's working on his first NHL Stanley Cup playoff experience. Saturday nights Game 5 was one of the good nights for Horton, as he pounced on a rebound in front of the net and scored a greasy goal to power the Boston Bruins to a 2-1 double overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.

I saw the rebound, we had control of the puck, and I saw the rebound come out. It was. It was like its in slow motion, said Horton. It was just sitting there. Ill tell you, it felt good to put that in the net. Obviously winning the game, it was a pretty special moment.

The play was unique, as both Andrew Ference and Milan Lucic were running something similar to a pick-and-roll near the blue line to keep possession of the puck in the Habs' zone. Ference finally fired a shot from the point though traffic and a David Krejci screen. Carey Price was able to get a pad on the puck, but he kicked the rebound right to Horton crashing in from the right side. Horton tapped it into the open side of the net.

The first line was better and that was a good sign," said coach Claude Julien. "Scoring that OT goal will hopefully give that line a real good boost. And we all know how when you start thinking positively, things start to be a lot easier. And I think they were carrying some weight from not producing and being one of the lines wanting to produce.

"But . . . now Horton knows what if feels like to score a game-winning, overtime goal in the playoffs and he was a pretty happy man in the dressing room.

Lucic picked up an assist on Hortons goal for his first point of the postseason, and also led the Bruins with a team-high eight shots on net. Lucic had previously only attempted five shots total in the first four games of the playoffs.

Lucic got a couple of excellent chances in close to the net.

"Well, I mean we were chipping away all game long, it seemed like," said Lucic. "And I dont know what it is . . . whenever I get a scoring chance it seems like its not going in. But . . . we didnt get frustrated and it was almost like when we had the opportunity in overtime we wanted to do whatever we could to step up and contribute to this team."

Boxer Micky Ward of Lowell, the subject of the movie "The Fighter," was in the crowd for Game 5 at TD Garden, along with former New England Revolution player Taylor Twellman.

The Bruins and Canadiens played their first scoreless first period of the series, Boston also came up with the first home victory of the series.

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

Friday, July 29: Good signs in Bruins-Marchand negotiations

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Friday, July 29: Good signs in Bruins-Marchand negotiations

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while using “malarkey” in my day-to-day vocabulary as much as possible. 
 
-- Dale Tallon was promoted with the Florida Panthers to accentuate his strengths as a talent evaluator, but maintains that he still has final say on hockey decisions
 
-- PHT writer Cam Tucker has another young D-man off the board with the Wild’s Matthew Dumba signing a two year, $5.1 million deal with Minnesota
 
-- In the interest of self-promotion, here’s my take on the negotiations between Brad Marchand and the Bruins: There’s a couple of good signs at the outset of negotiations
 
-- The Arizona Coyotes are stressing the defensive side of things in a big, big way, and it appears to be part of John Chayka’s master plan

 -- Alex Pietrangelo would be a natural selection to replace David Backes as the next captain of the St. Louis Blues. 

-- A moving letter from Sens forward Bobby Ryan to his recently passed mother is up at the Players Tribune website. 

-- Chris Kreider has re-signed with the New York Rangers, and plans to get out of his head and onto the score sheet more often. 
 
-- For something completely different: Jerod Mayo will bring a new voice to Tom E. Curran’s Quick Slants program on our very own CSN network. 

 

List of Bruins prospects includes two familiar names

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List of Bruins prospects includes two familiar names

With decidedly Boston-sounding names and thoroughly familiar faces, given their resemblances to their ex-Bruin dads, it might have been easy to overlook Ryan Donato and Ryan Fitzgerald and focus on the truly little-known prospects at Development Camp earlier this month.

But on the ice, their brimming confidence, their offensive skills and the maturity to their all-around game was impossible to ignore.

When it was over, general manager Don Sweeney singled out Donato, who plays at Harvard, and Fitzgerald, from Boston College -- along with Notre Dame forward Anders Bjork and former Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk -- as players who have developed significantly.
 
“[They're] just comfortable in what they’re doing,” said Sweeney. “I mean, they’ve played at the college hockey level . . . two, three, four years with some of these kids. They’re very comfortable in their own skin and in what they do.”
 
Donato, 20, is actually coming off his first season at Harvard, where he posted 13 goals and 21 points in 32 games. He looked like he was in midseason form during Development Camp, showing off a scoring touch, skill with the puck on his stick in tight traffic, and the instincts to anticipate plays that allow him to beat defenders to spots in the offensive zone. He’s primed for a giant sophomore season with the Crimson, based on his showing at camp.
 
“Every year is a blast," said Donato, son of former Bruins forward and current Harvard coach Ted Donato. "You just come in [to development camp] with an open mindset where you soak everything up from the coaches like a sponge, and see what they say. Then I just do my best to incorporate it into my game and bring it with me to school next year.
 
“One of the things that [Bruins coaches and management] has said to me -- and it’s the same message for everybody -- is that every area of your game is an important one to develop. The thing about the NHL is that every little detail makes the difference, and that’s what I’ve been working on whether it’s my skating, or my defensive play. Every little piece of my game needs to be developed.”
 
Then there's Fitzgerald, 21, who is entering his senior season at BC after notching 24 goals and 47 points in 40 games last year in a real breakout season. The 2013 fourth-round pick showed speed and finishing ability during his Development Camp stint and clearly is close to being a finished hockey product at the collegiate level.
 
“It was good. It’s definitely a fun time being here, seeing these guys and putting the logo on,” said Fitzgerald, son of former Bruins forward Tom Fitzgerald, after his fourth Development Camp. “One thing I’m focusing on this summer is getting stronger, but it’s also about just progressing and maturing.
 
“I thought . . . last year [at BC] was a pretty good one, so I just try to build off that and roll into my senior season. [The Bruins] have told me to pretty much continue what I’m doing in school. When the time is right I’ll go ahead [and turn pro], so probably after I graduate I’ll jump on and make an impact.”
 
Fitzgerald certainly didn’t mention or give any hints that it could happen, but these days it has to give an NHL organization a bit of trepidation anytime one of their draft picks makes it all the way to their senior season. There’s always the possibility of it turning into a Jimmy Vesey-type situation if a player -- like Fitzgerald -- has a huge final year and draws enough NHL interest to forego signing with the team that drafted him for a shot at free agency in the August following his senior season.
 
It may be a moot point with Fitzgerald, a Boston kid already living a dream as a Bruins draft pick, but it’s always a possibility until he actually signs.
 
In any case, both Donato and Fitzgerald beat watching in their respective college seasons after both saw their development level take a healthy leap forward.