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VANCOUVER There is little doubt Nathan Horton has been an inspiration to the Bruins since going down with a severe concussion in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The affable, ever-smiling right winger is a favorite of his teammates in the Bs dressing room and he was their Game 7 hero when he potted the winning goals against both the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lighting during Bostons playoff run.
There were a lot of smiles when Horton appeared on the TD Garden jumbotron during Game 6, waving yellow Bruins towels in both hands, and even more when it was learned he had hopped on the Bs team charter and was traveling to Vancouver for the decisive Game 7 against the Canucks.
There were rumblings from Rogers SportsNet that Horton was trying to convince the Bruins to let him play on Wednesday night but theres no shot of that, given the right wing was still suffering concussion symptoms just prior to Game 6 in Boston. His attitude is more about continuing to be a part of the Bruins as they attempt to finish off the job that Horton helped them start. It's also about potentially participating in the celebration if the Bruins are able to win at Rogers Arena.
The Bruins will set up Hortons equipment and sweater in his dressing room stall as he if was going to play.
That's something the guys wanted to do, said coach Claude Julien. They wanted him to be part of our group here. Until the third game of the Final, he was a big contributor to our hockey club. If the doctors would let him, he would play Wednesday and we all know that that's the way he feels right now. He would be willing to play through what he's gone through.
Though Horton can't play, his teammates will certainly include their fallen No. 1 right wing in everything leading up to the game.
It is special, said Julien. He certainly wanted to be here. We wanted him on this trip. As you know, when you get this far, you're a pretty close-knit group. Our guys wanted everybody here and they've got it."
The Bruins also plan to send out some positive vibes to Marc Savard, who also had a great deal to do with whats been built in Boston over the last four years.
Marc is probably the only one right now that's not here and his health varies from day to day, week to week," Julien said. "He's still in our thoughts and he's part of our hockey club as well. We've got a lot of guys that are part of this and some of them are here and one of 'em isn't.
Horton was clearly emotional during Game 6 when he was put up on the TD Garden jumbotron amid huge applause from Bruins fans, and perhaps thats what has No. 18 trying to talk his way into playing.
That isnt going to be happen, but it wont stop from potentially being a smiling part of history when things unfold in Game 7.
Vancouver GM Mike Gillis was clearly not happy about the lack of a penalty or suspension given to Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk after his collision with Mason Raymond that left the Canucks winger out for Game 7 with a compressed vertebrae injury.
Things looked scary as Raymond was wobbly and basically carried off the ice after laying face down for a long stretch. Gillis contends that the puck was nowhere near either player, making it a punishable hit.
Replays were inconclusive and the NHL said in an e-mail that it amounted to an awkward collision that didnt merit suspensions or penalties.
I haven't had any discussion with the league after last night. All I can tell you is my observations of the hit, said Gillis. I didn't see the puck around him. I thought Boychuk used a can opener and drove him into the boards with enough force to break his back. That's what I saw. I don't have much more to say about that other than that observation.