|Claude Julien keeping his options open with top-six forwards||02.12.13 at 12:06 pm ET|
Tyler Seguin was back on the ice in Tuesday’s morning skate, and with his return from a maintenance day came the return of the Bruins’ regular top-six forwards as the B’s prepare for the Rangers.
After flip-flopping Seguin and Nathan Horton on the top two lines over the last four periods, Claude Julien put Seguin back with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, while Nathan Horton is back with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice, so he should be in net for the Bruins’ last home game until Feb. 28.
The lines were the following in the morning skate:
Following the morning skate, Seguin said that nothing in particular in the Bruins’ 3-1 win over the Sabres prompted his maintenance day and that he is “all good” physically.
As for the lines being reverted to what they were for the season’s first nine games, Julien said that the experiment of switching the right wings on the top two lines — something he did for the third period last week against the Canadiens to kick-start Seguin and the offense in general — is something he plans to keep in his repertoire going forward.
The Krejci line scored goals in its first two shifts in the third period against the Habs, and though Julien took a risk by breaking up a line that was flourishing with Horton, the power forward continued his strong season with a sensational performance against the Sabres while skating with Bergeron and Marchand.
“Interchangeable,” Julien said of Horton and Seguin. “I said it before — even after they came out and did a great job in Montreal, I said, ‘Listen, this could be temporary, and it could be for a while. It depends.’ There are some players there that are very interchangeable and it gives us some different options.”
Obviously, Horton and Seguin differ greatly as players. They’re both immensely skilled player (both top-three picks in their respective draft years), but Horton is a far more physical player, while Seguin’s offensive skillset is superior.
It’s those differences that allow Julien to get much different looks with a flick of the switch. Putting Seguin on Krejci’s line makes them faster, and as long as Lucic is his normal self, the line still isn’t soft. It may be more of a liability defensively, but thus far the line was a plus-3 over the last two games. Horton, meanwhile, adds more grit to an already hard-working line with Bergeron and Marchand.
At the end of the day, the B’s are still wiser to keep Seguin with Bergeron and Horton with Krejci. Any defensive shortcomings on Seguin’s end go unnoticed thanks to Bergeron, while the combination of Horton and Lucic gives Krejci’s line a bruising edge that makes them extremely difficult for opposing teams.
Either way, Julien has said that he’ll be quicker to tinker with his lineup this year than in seasons past due to the shortened schedule. It’s still early in the season, but the B’s are fortunate to know they have options that have proven to work.
|Tuukka Rask, Nathan Horton lead Bruins past Devils in shootout win||01.29.13 at 9:49 pm ET|
Five was the magic number for the Bruins Tuesday night, as Nathan Horton beat Johan Hedberg five-hole to tie the game late and Brad Marchand took the same approach in scoring the game-winner in the sixth round of a 2-1 shootout win over the Devils at TD Garden.
With the B’s trailing, 1-0, Nathan Horton went five-hole with 4:05 remaining in regulation to tie the game after Martin Brodeur’s backup had blanked the B’s through the first two and a half periods of play.
Hedberg was given the start for the Devils in place of Brodeur, who was given the night off for the first time this season. He made 25 saves on 26 shots, while Tuukka Rask stopped 27 of Devils’ 28 shots. The lone Devils’ goal came from David Clarkson on the power play, marking the first time this season that the B’s allowed a power-play goal.
The 5-0-1 B’s will return to action Thursday at TD Garden as they face the Sabres in the first of five meetings between the teams this season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Two of Horton’s three goals this season have come at crucial moments in the third period this season. Horton tied the game in last Wednesday’s overtime loss to the Rangers and turned in the equalizer Tuesday against the Devils. For a guy who developed a reputation as a clutch player in the 2011 postseason, he sure is reminding Bruins fans what they were missing late last season.
– Rask was very good for the B’s, making key stops on close-range attempts by the Devils. With less than five minutes to go in the first period, Krys Barch was parked in front and controlled a shot from the point, but Rask did a split to get a pad in front. Later in the period, Rask came up big in stopping Ryan Carter, who took a pass in front on the rush from Jacob Josefson. He also came up with a big save on Henrik Tallinder from the high slot in overtime.
There wasn’t much he could do about Clarkson’s goal, as there was traffic in front and the puck was redirected, though Rask did make a nice save in coming across the crease to stop Clarkson during a Devils power play that came as a result of Krejci’s penalty.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Not having an effective power play cost the Bruins an attempt to pull even earlier. The team went 0-for-3 on the man advantage, most notably failing to capitalize on a Dainius Zubrus holding call with 8:15 remaining in regulation and the Devils up, 1-0. The only two shots of that power play came when Hedberg stopped Patrice Bergeron on the rush and stuffed Chris Bourque on the rebound.
– The Bruins’ perfect penalty kill streak ended at 24, as Johnny Boychuk’s second-period tripping penalty yielded Clarkson’s power play tally. The Bruins were the last team to allow a power play goal this season.
– Though he scored in the shootout for the second time this season, six games are in the books and Tyler Seguin still has just an empty netter to his name as goals go. He had one of his better performances of the season, but he let up big time in a second-period footrace with Andy Greene to avoid getting hit on a play that could have prevented icing.
Speaking of the shootout, Seguin had to re-do his attempt in the first round of the shootout when a fan appeared to throw something on the ice during his first attempt.
Seguin led the Bruins with 29 goals last season, but he’s yet to bury one the old fashioned way in 2013.
– The B’s took a pair of goaltender interference penalties, at least one of which was a rough call. Daniel Paille was whistled for taking down Hedberg in the second period, but replays showed that it looked more like Bryce Salvador took out his own goalie’s legs. David Krejci was also called for goalie interference in the third period moments after he had a scoring chance when he redirected a Dougie Hamilton pass from the point in front.
|First line focused on burying chances||01.22.13 at 5:44 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — There were few questions surrounding the Bruins (less than other teams, anyway) entering the season, but one of them surrounded the first line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. So far the answers have been pretty convincing.
The trio hadn’t played together since Horton went down with a concussion last season on a hit from Flyers forward Tom Sestito on Jan. 22, exactly a year ago. With Horton coming off two straight season-ending concussions and Lucic not playing during the lockout, it was easy to question how the Krejci trio would fare.
Nobody would have been surprised if the two power forwards came out sluggish as they got their legs back, but it’s been the opposite. The whole line has been flying, while Horton and Lucic have been their usual physical selves. Claude Julien sang their praises after Monday’s win over the Jets, but Krejci and Lucic said Tuesday that though they’re happy with their start, they haven’t buried their chances.
“It’s been basically a year going back to when Nathan got hurt in Philadelphia, since we played together in a threesome, and it’s obviously great that we’ve been able to click as well as we have, but in saying that, we’ve only been able to produce one goal,” Lucic said. “A big thing in the NHL is you’ve got to push yourself to get results. Right now it’s coming, but I think we definitely need to keep going until we get those results.”
Lucic was a wrecking ball on Monday (10 hits), while Horton and Krejci sniffed around several scoring opportunities, one of which came on their first shift when Krejci’s backhand bid was denied by Ondrej Pavelec.
“We had one right away the first shift,” Krejci said. “Those are the worst, on the first shift and you don’t score when you have a great chance. It’s not really a good feeling, but I think our game’s getting back to where we’d like it to be. The main thing for us is to keep our feet moving, with the puck or without the puck.”
Though Krejci has probably been the line’s best player through three games, the first line has undoubtedly been boosted by the return of Horton. The 27-year-old was cleared for contact over the summer and would have been ready for the start of the season had it began in October, and despite choosing not to play anywhere during the lockout, he clearly spent the time well. He looks bigger and stronger, while showing the skill that made him the third overall pick back in 2003.
His absence was felt when he went down last season. With Horton in the lineup, Lucic scored 17 goals in 45 games, while Krejci had 27 assists in 43 games. Without Horton, Lucic had just nine goals and Krejci had 14 assists in 43 games (including the playoffs).
With Horton back, the duo of he and Lucic has skated hard and used their big bodies (they stand at 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-3, respectively, and both weigh over 225 pounds) to wear down opposing top lines and create scoring opportunity.
“That’s how they get in the game, those two, with their physical play,” Krejci said. “I think they’ve done a pretty good job at it, and as a line I think we’ve created so many chances.
Said Lucic: “I think if you look at when I’ve been most successful in my career, it’s been when it’s been straight-line hockey. I’ve been able to do that the last two games, and I need to continue doing that. It’s no secret it makes me more successful than any other way of playing.
“If I’m trying to stick-handle and make moves and all that type of stuff, it doesn’t work as well. Keeping it simple works the best for my game and it has since my junior days, so why change now?”
The line has not been on the ice for a goal against this season. That’s a positive, but at the end of the day, its members know they should be on the ice for quite a few Bruins’ goals.
“I think the chemistry’s getting back there,” Krejci said of the line’s work. “Too bad we didn’t score [Monday]. We had so many chances, but the good thing is that we’re getting chances, we keep our feet moving and that’s a good sign. We’re the top line, so everyone expects for us to produce. We’re going to have to do that.”
|Nathan Horton ‘definitely’ could have started season in October||01.10.13 at 11:56 am ET|
WILMINGTON — After skating with his teammates for the first time since suffering a concussion last January, Bruins forward Nathan Horton he is 100-percent healthy and ready to go about business as usual throughout the upcoming training camp and 48-game season. His teammates certainly like what they saw on Thursday.
“He’s huge, eh?” Tyler Seguin quipped when asked about the power forward.
Indeed, the Bruins missed Horton’s services since he suffered his second concussion in as many seasons on a Jan. 22 hit from Flyers forward Tom Sestito. Teamed with Milan Lucic, Horton helped give the Bruins first line a bruising duo with a scoring threat, but head injuries have cost him time in the Bruins’ lineup.
Horton began skating by himself after suffering the concussion on the Sestito hit but had a setback and was eventually shut down before the playoffs last season. He said after Thursday’s informal practice with teammates that things have gone smoothly since.
“Near the end of the [season] I was starting to feel better, but all summer I never had any issues with all my running and skating,” Horton said. “I never had a setback, and I feel great. I’m pretty happy about that. It’s a tough thing to go through, but it’s in the past now and I’m looking forward to getting back and being around the guys yet and having some fun.”
Horton spent the lockout skating and working out in Florida. He chose against pursuing European options during the work stoppage, though he said he would have been healthy to start the season in October had it began on time.
“Oh definitely,” Horton said. “I was 100 percent back then. It seems so long ago, but more time obviously helped me. I was fine back then [though].”
A free agent at season’s end, Horton also suffered a concussion in Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals on a hit from Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome. He had played an integral role in the Bruins’ run to the finals up until that hit, as he scored two game-winning goals in overtime in the first round against the Canadiens (including the series-clincher in Game 7) and scored one of the biggest goals in team history by tallying the only score in the Bruins’ 1-0 victory in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Lightning.
That postseason remains Horton’s only taste of the playoffs, as he never saw the postseason in Florida and missed last year’s first-round exit against the Capitals, something that weighed on him.
“I got one shot of it [in 2011],” he said when asked about missing last season’s playoffs. “You get one taste and you just want to keep going. I didn’t get to do that and it’s pretty disappointing. It was a tough year for me, and I’m just happy to be back. I want to start off right here and keep moving forward.”
Despite now having a history of head injuries, Horton said he isn’t planning on changing his approach at all.
“The truth is I really haven’t even thought about it,” he said. “I’m not even worried about my head, I’m not worried about being in contact or getting in a fight or anything like that. It’s really in the back of my [mind]. I’m looking to the future and I haven’t thought about it. I feel better than I have in a long, long time and that’s it. I’m just happy that I feel good and it’s not even on my mind.”
|Nathan Horton skating with Bruins teammates||at 9:47 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Forward Nathan Horton was among those in attendance as Bruins players held an informal practice at Ristuccia Arena on Thursday. Other newcomers included Rich Peverley, Daniel Paille and defenseman Aaron Johnson.
Horton, who saw each of his last two seasons end early due to concussions, was cleared for contact over the summer but elected against playing anywhere during the lockout. Horton skated in Florida during the 113-day stoppage.
General manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien were also in attendance. Players had previously been skating at Boston University during the lockout.
|Nathan Horton has been skating, hopes to join Bruins teammates on ice in coming days||01.08.13 at 5:46 pm ET|
According to agent Paul Krepelka, Bruins forward Nathan Horton will return to Boston “in the next few days” with the hope of potentially skating with his teammates prior to training camp.
Horton, who has seen each of his last two seasons end early due to concussions and was limited to 46 games in the season, was cleared for contact over the summer and has been skating in Florida. He decided in September that he would not play competitively during the lockout.
“He is healthy and ready to start the season,” Krepelka reiterated in an email to WEEI.com.
Bruins players have been holding private practices with other local NHLers, with Shawn Thornton, Andrew Ference, Tuukka Rask, Adam McQuaid, Gregory Campbell, Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin and Tuukka Rask the regulars of late. Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk, both of whom returned from Europe recently, joined their teammates on Tuesday.
|Nathan Horton won’t play hockey during lockout||09.21.12 at 10:28 am ET|
While Bruins players are quickly finding places to play during the lockout, at least one player won’t be going anywhere. Nathan Horton, who has been shut down in each of the last two seasons due to concussions but was cleared for contact over the summer, will not play hockey during the lockout, Horton’s agent told WEEI.com on Friday.
Agent Paul Krepelka said that Horton is “doing well” and that his decision to not play hockey during the lockout “has nothing to do with his health. Just his personal choice.”
Horton, 27, did not play again last season after suffering his second concussion in seven months in a 6-5 win over the Flyers on Jan. 22. In 46 games last season, the right wing scored 17 goals and added 15 assists for 32 points. Horton also saw his 2010-11 season end early when he suffered a concussion on a hit from Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Horton had been in Florida this summer, but recently came back to Boston. He’s expected to stick around until things pick up with the NHL.
Thus far, David Krejci and Andrew Ference (Czech Extraliga) as well as Tyler Seguin (Swiss Elite League) have already made agreements to play overseas during the lockout. Dennis Seidenberg is expected to eventually go to Germany to play with his brother Yannic Seidenberg in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.