ST. LOUIS, MO The Bruins have struggled mightily in the offensive department without top line power forward Nathan Horton, and it looks like theres no return in sight for the concussed right wing.
Claude Julien revealed after Tuesdays practice at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis that Horton still hasnt resumed skating on his own after suffering a setback several weeks ago. A source close to Horton revealed to CSNNE.com on Tuesday that Hortons return is going to be awhile. Hes not close right now.
Thats an ominousdose of bad Horton news that the Bs didnt need.
The source stressed theres every belief that Horton will still return before the end of the regular season, but hes now missed 11 games and a month of hockey with what was originally diagnosed as a mild concussion after a blindside hit from Tom Sestito.
There are only 25 games remaining in the season and the head injury was Hortons second concussion within an eight-month span.
Those are all troubling factors in the realm of hockey players and head injuries.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli admitted that the task of potentially replacing Horton has entered into the back of his mind during trade talks, but there are very few ready-made solutions for a 6-foot-2, 220-pound winger capable of potting 25 goals and providing a valuable net-front presence. In the back of my head its that he may be something that we have to replace. But I would expect him to be back," said Chiarelli, little more than a week agojust after Horton suffered his initial setback. "But we do look at players and say Hey, maybe this player could add to our depth, or maybe hed have to play a certain spot too like Hortons spot.
The Bruins are trying not to use it as an excuse, but theyve been shut out four times in 11 games without Horton while watching their goal production drop from 3.72 goals per game to 1.8 goals per game. Those kinds of numbers speak for themselves as does the players and coaches bemoaning their lack of net-front presence over the last few weeks.
Those are the exact assets that Horton brought to the table before getting taken out by the Sestito head hit.
It does have an effect. The injuries have disrupted our lines and our chemistry with each other. Weve had to move guys around and thats been a challenge, said Julien. You still have to overcome those things. Its not an excuse. Its reality. But were still a better team than the one thats been shut out lately.
It looks like theyll have to prove it without Horton as he continues to fight the uphill battle back from lingering concussion symptoms that arent going away.