|Now healthy, Milan Lucic has to step up this postseason with Nathan Horton out||04.11.12 at 2:13 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — It became official Wednesday that David Krejci and Milan Lucic will not play with Nathan Horton this postseason, but could the Bruins’ first (depending on who you ask) line be even better than it was a season ago?
It’s a tough act to follow, to be certain. Krejci led all postseason players with 12 goals and 23 points, while Horton’s eight goals tied for third on the team.
The line will obviously be different in that Rich Peverley will be skating in Horton’s place as he did in Games 3-7 of the Cup finals, but the biggest difference should be Lucic.
After leading the team with 30 goals in the regular season last year, Lucic struggled through a sinus infection and, later, a broken toe. He finished the playoffs with 12 points (five goals, seven assists), which tied for eighth on the team. The Bruins won the Cup, and he assisted two of Horton’s overtime goals against the Canadiens (including the series-clinching Game 7 tally), but Lucic didn’t look right. People wondered whether he was playing through pain.
As it turned out, he was. He’d had the sinus infection throughout the postseason, and he had his big toe shattered by a Tyler Seguin slap shot in practice between Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay.
Now, Lucic is healthy, and he’s ready to not only produce more offensively, but help in the other areas where Horton will be missed. When Horton is on that line, it’s a trio that features two big power forwards, making it a very physical and tough group to deal with. Peverley adds speed, but the extra bruising play will have to be provided by Lucic.
“I think I definitely have to play physical no matter what, but [Horton] definitely makes it easier, I’m not going to lie, because he is a big body and he’s got such great speed and we all know about his scoring touch,” Lucic said. “For myself, I feel like I’ve been playing pretty well the last 10 games, and using my body well all season long and I’ve been skating well. Being physical is a big part of my game, and I have to bring that in the playoffs.”
There’s no positive way of spinning of the loss of Horton, but Lucic can recognize that the situation heading into the postseason will be easier than it was the last time the B’s last Horton. Krejci had centered Lucic and Horton for the vast majority of the season, and the trio had built up a pretty strong rapport.
One Aaron Rome hit later, Krejci and Lucic found themselves with a new linemate while still four victories away from the Stanley Cup. There was no time for adjustment then, but they now have experience with Peverley based on the Cup finals and recent weeks.
“Yeah it does, definitely,” Lucic said when asked whether the familiarity with Peverley makes it easier this time around. “You go from playing a whole year with the exact same two guys, and then the last four games, Peverley jumps in the mix. This time, we’ve definitely played a lot more games together, and in these last couple of days of practice have gotten the feel of each other a lot more having practiced with each other. We’re excited for this series to get going, and we’re excited to get back into playoff mode. We want to be a big part of our team moving forward and having success.”
Peverley returned from a knee injury on March 25 and had four points (two goals, two assists), over the final eight games of the regular season. He brings a different skill set with a speedier game, but he showed he was capable of performing in the playoffs last season by matching Lucic’s 12 points despite playing most of the playoffs on the third line.
Ultimately, the Bruins are better with Nathan Horton without him, but the Krejci line should still be poised for success without him. Peverley had four points in five games in place of Horton last June, and Krejci has been known to elevate his game in the playoffs. At the end of the day, though, don’t be surprised if Lucic ends up being the real difference on that line this year. He wasn’t healthy enough to be a consistent force in the playoffs like Horton was a season ago, but there are plenty of reasons to believe he could be this time around.
|Marc Savard: ‘I feel so bad’ for Nathan Horton||04.11.12 at 1:16 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — When the Bruins traded for Nathan Horton in the 2010 offseason, the hope was that he could thrive in the Boston offense thanks to the skills of Marc Savard. Scorers such as Phil Kessel had excelled when skating on Savard’s line, so fans and media alike wondered if Savard could make Horton a 40-goal scorer.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, Savard and Horton haven’t shared many goals, or even games together. What they do have in common is that they’ve seen the bad side of playing in the NHL: concussions and post-concussion syndrome.
On the day that the Bruins announced Horton would miss the postseason with a concussion, Savard took to twitter to express his thoughts on the news, which hit close to him given his history. Savard wrote the following:
“I feel so bad for my boy Horty. Although I believe both parties are making the right decision. He’s too young.”
Savard, who is in the second year of a seven-year deal with the Bruins, missed the entire season with post-concussion syndrome and it is still unknown whether he will ever play again. Horton’s concussion is his second in less than seven months.
|Peter Chiarelli: Post-concussion symptoms accompanied progress with Nathan Horton||04.11.12 at 12:53 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli met with the media towards the end of Wednesday’s practice to discuss the team’s decision to shut Nathan Horton down for the playoffs.
Horton, who suffered his concussion on a Jan. 22 hit from Flyers forward Tom Sestito, was having a rough time in his recovery. He tried skating days after the concussion, but was shut down after suffering a setback. Horton returned to the ice last week, but he continued to feel post-concussion symptoms and the B’s didn’t want him to put pressure on himself to rush back.
“We felt it just wasn’t in the long-term interest of Nathan to be having the specter hanging over him of trying to come back during this playoff season,” Chiarelli said. “He’s made one step forward, and then two steps back and we just made the determination, upon consultation with our doctors, with Nathan, that it would be prudent to shut him down for the playoffs and continue to rehab for next year.”
The one step forward/two steps back is what made the decision clear for the Bruins.
“He’d be improving and then he’d have some symptoms,” Chiarelli said. “They weren’t huge symptoms, but they’d always come up at some point after three, four, five or six days of positive stuff.
“It was a frustrating exercise for Nathan, it was a frustrating exercise for us because we’ve been through this rehab before with players and I’ve seen all kinds of rehab patterns now because usually you can see when the player has color, and when he’s animated, you think he’s turned the corner and then they have a bout of post-concussion symptoms and they manifest themselves in different ways. With Nathan, sometimes it’d be just a fogginess, sometimes he wouldn’t feel right and sometimes there’d be a big headache. But it was always after three, four or five days of positive progress.”
Chiarelli added that Horton, who had 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points in 46 games this season, was “relieved” when the decision was finally made to shut him down. The GM said Horton will rehab in off-hours and “might take a couple weeks off.”
“I think with Nathan, he gets within the group and he looks back at his contributions this past year and last playoffs and he starts getting anxious and that probably compounds it, too,” Chiarelli said. “I think he felt a sense of relief, and again talking to Nathan over the course of the last couple of weeks, he doesn’t look bad ‘ he looks good actually. But he gets these bouts ‘ the fogginess doesn’t feel right and you have to be very careful.”
Chiarelli was asked whether he is confident that Horton will be ready for next season, but as the B’s have learned in the past, you never know with concussions.
“Yeah, I am but who knows? Who knows?” he said while shrugging. “IGoing into two weeks ago you had asked me [about[ him playing this playoffs, I [would say], ‘You know, there’s a chance.’ And then he had a couple of setbacks and then you have to take a step back and kind of look at the whole thing and that’s what we did.”
One thing that Chiarelli was adamant about was whether this concussion, which was initially termed “mild,” had anything to do with the concussion he suffered less than seven months earlier on a hit from Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.
“Totally unconnected, totally unconnected and the symptoms were completely different,” Chiarelli said. ‘¦ “It was clear to me it was totally unconnected to the first concussion.”
|Adam McQuaid to miss Game 1 vs. Capitals with upper-body injury||04.11.12 at 12:36 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins finally gave a little more news on Adam McQuaid.
McQuaid missed practice for the third straight day Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena. After the skate, B’s coach Claude Julien announced that McQuaid, who is dealing with an upper-body injury, will not be in the lineup for Game 1 against the Capitals Thursday.
|Adam McQuaid misses third straight practice||04.11.12 at 10:51 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The lines and attendees of Wednesday’s practice was unchanged for the Bruins, as Adam McQuaid remained the only absence. McQuaid is still out with what the team is calling an upper-body injury.
Here are the lines:
Milan Lucic ‘ David Krejci ‘ Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand ‘ Patrice Bergeron ‘ Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot ‘ Chris Kelly ‘ Brian Rolston
Daniel Paille/Jordan Caron ‘ Gregory Campbell ‘ Shawn Thornton
|Nathan Horton done for the season||04.11.12 at 10:43 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins announced Wednesday that right wing Nathan Horton will miss the 2012 postseason. The news comes as no major shock, as Horton has been out since late January with his latest concussion.
Horton suffered a concussion on Jan. 22 against the Flyers on a hit from Tom Sestito, his second concussion in less than seven months. He had previously been knocked out of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals after a hit from Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome left him concussed in Game 3.
In 46 games this season, Horton had 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points. He had tried to resume skating in early February, but suffered a setback before eventually returning to the ice last week. Despite the fact that he was skating, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Sunday that Horton was a “long shot” to return during the postseason given the two weeks he would need to return after eventually being medically cleared.
|Bruins sign Boston College captain Tommy Cross||04.10.12 at 7:49 pm ET|
The Bruins signed former second-round pick and Boston College captain Tommy Cross to an entry-level deal Tuesday. He is expected to report to Providence and make his AHL debut Friday.
Cross had five goals and 19 assists for 24 points this season as a senior. The defenseman won national titles in 2010 and 2012, as the Eagles defeated Ferris St. for the National Championship this past Saturday. In his career at BC, Cross had 17 goals and 33 assists for 50 points in 134 points.
The Bruins traded up in the second round in 2007 to select Cross, a left-shot blue liner and native of Simsbury, CT, with the 35th overall pick. Since then, one big concern has been his health, as he has had three major surgeries on right knee.
Cross isn’t the only Eagle to sign a deal Tuesday. Junior forward Chris Kreider signed with the Rangers and will report to the big club, thus burning the first year of his deal.