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Nathan Horton ready to face old ‘rivals’ with stakes raised 05.10.11 at 8:40 pm ET
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Back during the preseason, Nathan Horton, who had come to the Bruins after playing the first six years of his career in Florida, was gearing up for his first game against the Canadiens. Sure, it was an exhibition, but it was a big deal for a player who never felt he played in a major rivalry.

Yet it wasn’t his first rivalry, it was just his first major rivalry. In asking Peter Chiarelli about it for a story, the general manager said “the Florida-Tampa rivalry, when it was going, actually there were some good games.”

It was tough for it to be seen as a major rivalry for Horton given that the stakes weren’t nearly as high. In his last three years in Florida, neither team made the playoffs, or even finished better than third in the Southeast Division. Horton had identified the in-state battle as being the closest thing he had to preparation for Bruins-Habs, saying he had “a little rivalry with Tampa Bay in Florida, but not really.”

What a difference a year makes.

Last season, only three points separated the fourth-place Lightning from the last-place Panthers in the cellar of their division. A year later, Horton is finally up to face the Lightning, though it’s taken relocation for him and major changes to Tampa Bay’s organization and roster to make it possible.

With a new general manager in Steve Yzerman, a new coach in Guy Boucher and a revamped roster, the Lightning are ready to storm into Boston this weekend with the intention of grabbing a lead in the Eastern Conference finals. Horton, still in his first postseason, is looking for a different result, and when it comes to him facing the lightning, the stakes are finally high.

“It’s weird,” Horton said Tuesday. “I mean, I’ve played them so many times in my career from when I played [in Florida]. They’ve been great this year. They’ve changed a lot from when I was there. They’ve gotten a lot better. Different faces, a new coaching staff. They’re a real talented team, but it’s definitely weird to be playing them.”

For Horton, it’s simply a sign of what change can do. For a player who wanted out of Florida, he’s enjoyed every second (his smile would suggest he’s even enjoyed the struggles) of his time in Boston. Change has been good for him, and it’s been good for the Lightning.

“It changes so quickly,” Horton said. “It’s going to be fun to go back there, and hopefully we can win some games.”

In four games against Tampa Bay this year, Horton has three assists.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Guy Boucher, Nathan Horton, Peter Chiarelli
Milan Lucic breaks out of slump with two goals in Game 4 win 05.07.11 at 2:09 am ET
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Friday night’€™s series-clinching win over the Flyers was special for everyone involved with the Bruins, but it was a little extra special for Milan Lucic. The team’€™s leading goal scorer during the regular season entered the game without a goal in the playoffs. In fact, he hadn’€™t scored in 20 games going back to the end of the regular season.

That drought finally came to an end when Lucic one-timed home a centering pass from Nathan Horton for a power-play goal 12:02 into the game.

‘€œIt was great,’€ Lucic said when asked how he felt after the goal. ‘€œIt was a great feeling once I scored that goal just to get that monkey off my back and get that lead.’€

Lucic wasn’€™t done, either. He gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead with 4:57 remaining in the game when he beat Sergei Brobovsky five-hole on a breakaway for his second goal of the night. That was the backbreaker for the Flyers, who had turned up the pressure after the Bruins made it 2-1 earlier in the third.

‘€œThat’€™s what it was all about here. We had to weather that storm,’€ coach Claude Julien said. ‘€œWhen you are desperate and you need to score to stay in the series, you know they are going to give it their best shot. ‘€¦ We did a great job until we got that third goal, which was a big goal. Certainly it relieved a lot of pressure.’€

Lucic admitted that he got frustrated at times during the slump, but he credited his teammates for supporting him and helping him get through it.

‘€œMy teammates, especially my linemates with [David] Krejci and Horton, we’€™ve been able to create so much chemistry here,’€ Lucic said. ‘€œThey had my back and they just told me, ‘€˜It’€™s going to come. Just keep sticking with it.’€™ I tried my hardest not to get frustrated. There was a time there when I was really frustrated. But right now, obviously it feels good to step up and help the team win a big game.’€

Assistant captain Mark Recchi said that sort of team unity is one of the biggest reasons the Bruins are where they are right now.

‘€œThat’€™s what good teams do,’€ Recchi said. ‘€œWhen you haven’€™t scored for a while, you tend to get tight. He’€™s a young kid and hopefully now he’€™s found a really good time to start getting hot. He’€™s been a great teammate to everybody else this year. When guys are struggling or they’€™re fighting to score goals, what good teams do is find ways to help him and take that pressure off of him.’€

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Mark Recchi, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton
Bruins/Flyers: Everything you need to know for Game 4 05.06.11 at 2:38 am ET
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The Bruins can bust out the brooms and prepare for the Eastern Conference finals by eliminating the Flyers Friday night at TD Garden. Of course, given that the B’s could get only the first three wins of the series last year, four is the only number on anyone’s mind. With that being said, here’s a preview based around the number.

Four things the Bruins have to do:

Don’t even think about letting up. If the B’s have any doubt as to whether the Flyers can bring it, all they have to do is think back to Game 2. The Flyers dominated them in that contest, and the B’s were bailed out by Tim Thomas. In Game 3, it looked like the Bruins feared a 2-1 series even more than the Flyers feared 3-0, and the result was a contest in which Philadelphia was clearly outmatched.

Keep on hitting. The Flyers won’t be able to come out and make an early statement if the B’s are as physical as they were in Game 3. Brad Marchand racked up seven hits through the first two periods, including a big hit on Ville Leino with the Flyers on the power play in the first.

Continue to play like it’s scoreless at all times. One thing that hasn’t gotten much attention with these Bruins this postseason is that the scoreboard hasn’t impacted them much. They fell behind by a pair of goals on the road in both Game 4 of the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens and in Game 2 this series and came back to win both games. Also, the Bruins didn’t seem to slow down at all throughout Wednesday’s Game 3 despite leading in semi-blowout fashion.

Stay healthy. One way or another, the Bruins are going to win this series, so when they face Tampa Bay in the conference finals, they’ll need to do so with all of their stars. Losing David Krejci last year was disastrous.

Four numbers:

– If you’re happy with how Thomas has played against the Flyers thus far, consider that he fared better vs. the Lightning (1.67 goals against average, .950 save percentage) than he did against Philadelphia (1.96 GAA, .942 save percentage) in the regular season. His .935 save percentage this postseason is second only to Dwayne Roloson, who has a .941 mark for the Lightning.

Nathan Horton‘s Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight) Wednesday was the first of his career. His five playoff goals puts him in a tie with Krejci for the team lead.

– The Bruins won 43 of 55 face-offs in Game 3, including a perfect 8-for-8 from Krejci and and a 17-for-19 showing from Patrice Bergeron.

– While Wednesday marked the first game this postseason that the B’s scored a power play goal, it also marked the first contest this series in which the Flyers didn’t score on the man advantage. Philadelphia went 0-for-2 on the power play.

Four key players:

Whichever Flyers goaltender gets the start: Rhode Island native Brian Boucher has lost all three games this series and has been yanked in two of them (not including briefly leaving Game 2 with an injury). Sergei Bobrovsky has allowed three goals to the B’s in 55:15 this series.

David Krejci: The dominance continues. Including the playoffs, Krejci has had at least one point in his last 12 games against the Flyers, totaling five goals and 12 assists for 17 points. The B’s are 11-0-1 in those games.

Tim Thomas: The Vezina nominee allowed three goals in Game 1, two in Game 2, and one in Game 3. The numbers are trending in the right direction, and he’s really stepped it up since his human start to the Montreal series.

James van Riemsdyk: The former No. 2 overall pick has come a long way since his college days at New Hampshire, and he’s a guy the Bruins rightfully focused on Wednesday due to his two-goal, eight shot performance in Game 2. Van Riemsdyk has been the Flyers’ best player in a series in which they’ve had few candidates, leading them in shots on goal in each of the first three games (his eight tied Mike Richards in Game 1).

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brad Marchand, Brian Boucher, David Krejci
Gordie huh? Nathan Horton far more concerned with winning than personal achievements 05.05.11 at 1:07 pm ET
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Nathan Horton is usually excited about everything. This time of year, he’s even more excited given that he’s finally in the playoffs. Yet through a personal achievement, it seems Horton has finally revealed something he isn’t particularly excited about: a personal achievement.

The Bruins winger picked a funny time to get his first career Gordie Howe hat trick, but the B’s gladly took the results in a 5-1 win that saw Horton assist David Krejci‘s first-period goal, drop the gloves with Sean O’Donnell in the second, and score in the third. Given Horton’s power-forward style of play, it is a bit surprising that he had never picked up a Gordie Howe hat trick over seven regular-season campaigns. Of course, it wasn’t a surprise for him, as he didn’t even know that Wednesday was the first time he pulled off the feat.

“Of my career?” Horton said when asked about picking up his first Gordie Howe hat trick. “I don’t know. I don’t remember [if I ever did before].”

As for having a goal, assist and fighting major all in one game for the first time, Horton seemed indifferent to it. He plays mean on the ice, but it doesn’t seem he puts much thought into the numbers that come of it.

“I don’t know. Just anything you can do for a win,” Horton said. “That’s what it’s all about. Things happen on the ice. It’s kind of how it went, but the big thing is that we won and want to keep winning.”

The 25-year-old was out of his element a bit when asked about personal achievements, but once the conversation was turned to his team, Horton was, as he usually is, happy as a clam.

“We have such a great team,” he said. “We can win any game we want when we play hard, and we play the right way and the way we can.”

The Bruins go for the sweep against the Flyers on Friday.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Gordie Howe, Nathan Horton,
Bruins/Flyers Game 3 live blog: B’s lead, 4-1, in third 05.04.11 at 6:54 pm ET
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Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia and others from TD Garden as the Bruins and Flyers square off in Game 3 ofthe Eastern Conference semifinals. Boston has a 2-0 series lead.

Bruins/Flyers Game 3 live blog

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brian Boucher, Daniel Paille, David Krejci
Rivet, rivet: Bruins say broken skate the reason for Nathan Horton’s absence 05.01.11 at 2:42 pm ET
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PHILADELPHIA — Nathan Horton wasn’t on the ice as the Bruins held their Sunday practice at Wells Fargo Center, but his never-ending grin could still be seen in the team’s dressing room following the skate. Horton did only off-ice work Sunday, with he and the team explaining that it was an equipment issue that led to his absence. Horton, who famously went to a local sporting goods store to buy a stick during a prolonged scoring slump in the regular season, apparently realized he had a broken skate as he was getting ready for the practice. By the time it was realized, Horton said, coach Claude Julien told him not to bother worrying about the practice.

“His rivets popped just before going out there, so the trainer came to see me, and I said we were only going out there for 20 minutes, so by the time you get it fixed [it wouldn’t be worth it],” Julien said after practice. “He did a little off-ice workout, and it’s not a big deal. He’ll skate tomorrow morning.”

Horton led the Bruins with five shots on goal in Boston’s 7-3 win over the Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The 25-year-old had a goal and an assist for two points and was a plus-3 on the day. Through eight playoff games, Horton has five points and a plus-2 rating.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Claude Julien, Nathan Horton,
Nathan Horton doubles his pleasure while doubling the fun for the Bruins 04.28.11 at 12:40 am ET
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Nathan Horton isn’t about to complain about being dragged to the postgame press conference room in full uniform like he was Wednesday night to talk about his series-winning goal. After all, he’s getting to be a real pro at taking the stage to discuss such heroics.

Four nights after winning Game 5 in double-overtime, Horton won the game and the series with a bomb of a shot that Carey Price never saw with 14:17 left in overtime to capture Game 7 for the Bruins and avoid the worst kind of heartbreak for Bruins fans.

It also sent the B’s onto a second-round rematch with the Flyers starting this weekend in Philadelphia.

“Yeah, it was pretty nice,” said a smiling Horton. “I mean, it felt pretty good. I don’€™t remember too much. I remember Looch [Milan Lucic] coming up with the puck and I just tried to get open, and I tried putting the puck towards the net. Luckily it got deflected off someone and it went straight in. That’€™s all I remember. It was pretty special, again, it doesn’€™t get any better.”

The goal also saved the Bruins from the devastating heartbreak of blowing a 3-2 lead with less than two minutes left in regulation, when P.K. Subban scored on the power play to force overtime.

“When you have the lead it feels good, but when you give it up, it’€™s tough, especially in Game 7, late in the third, and we battled,” Horton said. “We battled all year, when times have been tough, and we’€™ve come together and it seems like we get stronger and we just start pressing, and that’€™s the way it’€™s been all year. On if it’€™s safe to say he’€™s enjoying the playoffs’€¦ I’€™m really enjoying it. Every day is exciting. Every day is a new day, but it feels good, definitely, to get used to this, continue winning. That’€™s what it’€™s all about.”

Horton was the Bruins player who started off like a house on fire this season, with eight goals in his first 15 games. Then he cooled off before finishing with 26 on the season, just four behind Milan Lucic for the team lead. Safe to say he’s caught fire again at the very best time. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Nathan Horton
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