|Nathan Horton travels to Vancouver with Bruins, teammates keep him in mind||06.14.11 at 11:28 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — It wasn’t immediately clear whether Nathan Horton would be well enough to endure a coast-to-coast flight, but the concussed Bruins forward did indeed make the trip to Vancouver to watch his team play Wednesday’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.
“He certainly wanted to be here. We wanted him on this trip,” coach Claude Julien said Tuesday. “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.”
Horton suffered a severe concussion that ended his season when he was dropped by Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome early in Game 3 of the series. The first-line right wing left the game and arena in a stretcher and was ruled out for the remainder of the playoffs the next day. Rome, meanwhile, was suspended for four games for the hit. Horton was at TD Garden for Game 6, being shown on the Jumbotron with tears in his eyes waving a pair of Bruins flags.
Now, the Bruins have left Horton’s equipment in his locker, a sign that he is still just as big a part of the team as anyone else. Given that he came to the Bruins with a reputation as a player who was indifferent to the game, the former third overall pick certainly made a strong impression on his teammates in his first year in Boston and found an NHL home.
“That’s something the guys wanted to do,” Julien said of the equipment gesture. “They wanted him to be part of our group here. Until, again, the third game of the playoffs, 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.
“But we know that’s not the right decision to make. But that’s the way he’s feeling right now. He wants to play so badly, he would be willing to play through that. So when a guy has that approach and has that will to want to do that for his team and teammates, the least you can do is honor him in your own way. Our players chose to honor him by making sure the trainers brought his equipment. Before the game, his sweater is hanging in his stall. He’s part of our team and we want him there to the end.”
One man who will not be at Rogers Arena Wednesday is Marc Savard. Like Horton, Savard is dealing with issues from a concussion, though Savard’s history of concussions likely make traveling more difficult. Savard has been in attendance at for a couple of games in Boston, a significantly shorter trip from Peterborough, Ontario, this postseason.
“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 them isn’t.”
Horton developed a reputation as a clutch player in his first postseason this year, scoring series-clinching goals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and finals. He had eight goals and nine assists for 17 points and a plus-11 in 21 games.
Video courtesy of Bruins.NHL.com.
The singular turning point of the series has also turned into a rally cry for the Bruins, as Michael Ryder acknowledged after scoring a goal in Boston’s 5-2 win over Vancouver in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals Monday night at TD Garden.
With the crowd already in a frenzy following two quick goals to start the game, the video board at the Garden showed Nathan Horton in the zamboni area waving a Bruins black and gold hanky. Horton was shown live for the first time since being knocked to the ice with a severe concussion exactly one week ago on hit by Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome in Game 3. He has been ruled out of the playoffs.
“Horty’s a big part of this team and he’s one of the reasons we’re where we are,” Ryder said. “He’s a great guy and it’s good to see him a lot better and we know he’s excited and he wants us to win. We have to make sure we do everything we can to pull it off for him.”
“We didn’t know that they were going to be doing that and showing him up there,” added Bruins forward Brad Marchand. “You know for him to come in and give us that boost of energy is unbelievable. And obviously the crowd loves it and loves him and are supporting him every minute of the day. It was great to see him out there. He gave us a big energy boost.
Two and a half minutes later, Andrew Ference fired a slap shot past Roberto Luongo on the power play for Boston’s third goal and pandemonium ensued with the Bruins up, 3-0, and Luongo chased to the bench.
|Bruins hopeful Nathan Horton will attend Game 6||06.13.11 at 1:28 pm ET|
The Canucks have the Stanley Cup at the Garden for motivation Monday night, and it seems the Bruins will have some less famous inspiration in the house.
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he expects Nathan Horton, who is out for the series due to a severe concussion suffered in Game 3, to be in attendance as the B’s look to prevent elimination in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. Horton came into the Boston dressing room after the team’s 4-0 victory in Game 4, and has seen teammates here and there since.
“He’s been around,” Claude Julien said, also noting that under no circumstances would Horton be able to make a return to the ice this week. “‘¦If people are looking for miracles, if he’s [in attendance Monday], it will be pretty special. But right now, he’s still dealing with those concussion issues as we speak.
“He popped in quickly this morning just to say ‘hi.’ I have the impression that he’s going to be coming to the game tonight as long as he feels good, and that can vary as the day goes on. I think right now his plan is to hopefully be here tonight.”
Horton had eight goals and nine assists for 17 points in 21 games this postseason, his first playoffs experience. He scored series-clinching goals in Game 7 of both the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and finals.
|Game 6 countdown, noon: Tim Thomas in line for Conn Smythe?||at 11:59 am ET|
Even if the Bruins lose Game 6 Monday night, there is speculation that Tim Thomas will win the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP. At Canada’s Sportsnet website, Ian Mendes writes that he’s hearing from fellow media members Thomas is the favorite, but he makes a case for Thomas’ counterpart, Roberto Luongo. The premise of his argument is that Luongo had bad games in Boston when the Canucks were going to lose anyhow, so ignore those games and focus instead on how well he’s played in the rest of the playoffs.
‘¦ The Toronto Star has five questions for Game 6, including the question: Which Bruin will step up and replace the clutch scoring of Nathan Horton? The last question, which will not sit well with Bruins fans, is: If the Canucks win, who will be the first players to handle the Stanley Cup?
‘¦ Following a relatively tame series against the Lightning, the Bruins have had no shortage of villains step forward for the Canucks. In the National Post, Sean Fitz-Gerald recaps and analyzes the controversy from the finals.
|GQ’s Jonah Keri: ‘No one wants’ Bruins to win||06.09.11 at 4:31 pm ET|
In a piece written for GQ.com entitled “The Boston Bruins vs. The World,” noted sportswriter Jonah Keri has a simple but sharp message for the Bruins and their fans.
After spending a few paragraphs discussing the “We want the Cup” chant that has filled the TD Garden and discussing how every other NHL team wants a Stanley Cup, Keri writes, “But you, Bruins fans? No one wants you to have it.”
He notes that there are plenty of good reasons to root for the B’s. Among them are Tim Thomas‘s long journey to stardom, Alexandre Burrows‘s bite on Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton‘s season-ending concussion. But Keri still adds “You know what? We’re still not rooting for you.”
His main reasoning behind this thesis is that Boston fans complain of “The Drought,” the 39-year period since the B’s have lost won the Stanley Cup, when the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics have all took home trophies in the last decade. Since Keri claims that all Bruins fans also root for these other squads, there should be no remorse for those who don the black and gold.
“You sound like the douchebag who [expletive] that, after the three-bedroom in Tribeca, the place in the Hamptons, the kids’ boarding school, the annual trips to Paris and Aruba, the four cars, and two alimonies, you’ve barely got enough left for that third bottle of Dom at Per Se,” Keri writes before concluding, “We feel for the 12 Bruins fans who’ve shunned the city’s other franchises and waited nearly 40 years for their shot. The rest of you? Prepare yourselves for heartbreak. Until the day after Vancouver wins the Cup, when you can watch your first-place Red Sox try to break Boston’s Three-Year Curse.”
Former Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning following the Bruins 4-0 win in Game 4 to discuss the game and the remainder of the series with the Canucks. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
‘I saw the Bruins come out with a different will in Game 3, from the opening shift when [Mark] Recchi went out ran over two guys, they were trying to be so much more physical than they were in Vancouver,” Bourque said. “I see a different will from the Bruins, and obviously that hit on [Nathan] Horton fueled things even more for the guys to rally around and make them more determined and hungry and want to win it for him. They just kept coming and coming to Vancouver in terms of physical play ‘¦ As both games wore on you could see the Bruins were wearing down Vancouver and how they were playing physically and it was fun to watch.’
Bourque discussed how goaltending has been such a major difference in the series.
“As you look at both teams their backbone is their goaltending and they rely on their goaltending so much, and Tim Thomas has been so much better than [Roberto] Luongo. I think that is wearing on Vancouver, as they are saying, ‘what are we going to get tonight from this guy?’ He’s been struggling.’
Although Luongo has in fact struggled, Bourque does not expect a Cancucks goalie change for Game 5.
‘I think you have to go with the guy that has gotten you there and is a Vezina trophy finalist, with Thomas, and you hope he gets back home and feels comfortable and plays his game,” he said. “I think you can’t go away from him, his track record in regular season is so strong … he’s got to the finals so you have to ride him out.”
After all, Nathan Horton has done it all this postseason for the Bruins – especially in the clutch. There was the overtime winner in Game 5 against Montreal. There was the overtime winner in Game 7 against Montreal.
And there was game-winner against Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
But Horton won’t be playing anymore this season. Peverley was moved up to the top line of David Krejci and Milan Lucic and responded with first and last goals of a 4-0 thumping of the Canucks to even the series at 2-2 going back to Vancouver.
Peverley wasn’t informed he was on the top line until just before the game.
“Just before warm-ups,” Peverley said when asked when he found out he was playing on the top line. “I had no idea who was going to go in there, if it was going to be me or [Michael Ryder]. Rydes took a lot of shifts with them too. [Tyler Seguin] was in there, too. Nothing is set in stone.
“I haven’t contributed as well as I think I could, offensively. Anytime you can help out, especially in this environment, you want to do so.”
Julien has experimented with different looks for his top line and came to the conclusion before Game 4 that Peverley was his choice.
“We had different looks,” Julien said. “We saw [Michael] Ryder go up there a few times as well when Rich was killing penalties. I said I’d use different players at that position. Pev’s got good speed. Their line had forechecks pretty well with Lucic on one side. We thought we’d keep that going. He still has pretty decent hands. We thought we would start with that. Michael is another guy who can fit on that line as well. Certainly Tyler [Seguin] was a consideration. His skill and speed level on that line at times also.”