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Predicting what’s next for Nathan Horton, and why 10 is his lucky number

02.02.11 at 6:31 pm ET
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Nathan Horton has followed up ugly slumps with hot streaks throughout his career. (AP)

In case you haven’t heard, Nathan Horton scored on Tuesday. Who would have thought when the Bruins acquired the talented scorer over the summer that such a basic feat, and one that he’s accomplished 155 times, would be a big deal in February?

Inconsistency set in with Horton after a great start to the season, and more recently he had been unable to score even when he had positive showings. Such is the life of a streaky goal-scorer, but after scoring his first goal after 10 days without one, what is next for the 25-year-old?

Thanks to the good old stat truck, we can actually do a bit of projecting here, and it looks good. Turns out that Horton, who is known to have slumps, really turns it on when they reach 10 games.

Horton went 10 games without a goal to begin his career back in the 2003-04 season. Despite the fact that he was the team’s first-round draft choice (they traded down from the top spot and grabbed him at No. 3 overall), rookies get cut a bit of slack in that department. Hell, Tyler Seguin has had stretches of 11 and nine games (the latter of which is active) without a goal, but you don’t get on a rookie for struggling to find the back of the net. But I digress.

The story with Horton is that he is no stranger to these extra-long stretches of games without a goal. He’s probably the most talented scorer on the team (though Seguin should eventually dethrone him there), but he has had his struggles with getting goals on a consistent basis.

The good news is that 10 seems to be some sort of magic number for Horton. He reaches either 10 or 11 straight games without a goal and then finds a way to not only score, but score often. Take that rookie season of his for example. Horton scored his first career goal in the 11th game and followed it up with another tally the next game. From there he cooled again, but over the course of his career, Horton has been able to follow cold streaks that reach double digits by reminding people why his talents are so highly regarded.

Here’s the rub on Horton’s other stretches of 10 or more games without a goal over the course of his career:

- Horton failed to register a goal over 10 games from Dec. 22 to Jan. 8 in the 2005-06 season. Similar to this season, Horton scored after 10 games, and followed it up with another goal the next game. Upon scoring the slump-breaking goal against the Blues on Jan. 12, Horton went on to notch five goals in his next 10 games.

- In the 2007-08 season, Horton went 11 games (Jan. 5-Jan. 30) without a goal. He caught fire following the stretch, scoring eight goals over the next nine games, including a stretch of four straight games with a goal.

- The 2008-09 campaign also saw a prolonged scoring slump for Horton. He went 10 games without a goal from Nov. 14 to Dec. 26 (with some missed games sprinkled in therewith an ankle injury). Horton followed that up with six goals over his next eight games. You’ve probably caught onto the pattern from now on.

Last time Horton found himself the topic of “it’s been ___ games since this guy scored” columns and discussions (Dec. 15 to Jan. 1), he scored after nine games, getting one in the second period of the team’s 2-1 victory over the Maple Leafs on Jan. 3. That didn’t seem to be the slump-breaker that he’s gotten in the past, as he followed it up with the freezing 10-game stretch that he finally broke Tuesday.

Maybe nine doesn’t do the trick when it comes to Horton’s slumps. Once it gets to 10, the statistical output that may have seemed to be hiding finally emerges, and does so in a big way. The Bruins can only hope that 10 proves to be the magic number once again.

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