|David Krejci: Nathan Horton concussion news ‘kind of sucks’||04.11.12 at 1:24 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — No one on the Bruins feels worse than David Krejci about Wednesday’s news that Nathan Horton will be out for the entire playoffs with the lingering effects of his second concussion in 12 months.
It was Krejci who was just beginning to get into a groove on the second line with Horton again when he had a setback in February, a setback that ended Wednesday with the news that Horton needed more time to fully heal.
“I was hoping he was going to be back for first or second round, but now we know he won’t,” Krejci said. “It kind of sucks but that’s how it goes sometimes. This is still his life and he’s got to take care of his own body. He shouldn’t be pushing it. If he doesn’t feel well, there’s nothing he can do.”
Krejci not only played on the same line with Horton, he can relate fully with what Horton is going through.
“I had a concussion two times so I know how it is,” Krejci said. “This is not an easy situation. Hopefully, he’s going to do well over the next couple months and he’s going to be ready for next season.”
Now, with Rich Peverley replacing Horton on the second line, Krejci and Milan Lucic have had to adjust. It’s an adjustment the Bruins made masterfully last year in the Stanley Cup finals as Peverley added a speed element that wasn’t there with Horton.
“One thing is you can’t replace Horty,” Krejci said. He’s just a great player and I love playing with him but the other side is we played without him for  games so we know how to win games without him. We still have a good team. We have lots of depth. Hopefully we can do it.
“I think we started putting the puck in the net more often, especially the last few games of the season. So, I feel pretty good. This is kind of new season. Everybody starts from the beginning. We’re just going to have to go out there and do it again.”
Brad Marchand is one of those players who picked up the scoring slack for Horton in the finals, scoring twice in Game 7 in Vancouver.
“We’re going to try,” Marchand said. “We want to play for him like we did last year in the finals. It’s obviously tough with him not being here so we want to definitely want to use that to an advantage and play for him.
“It’s big for him and the team. We’re not going to always be wondering and hoping if he’s going to come back and save us. The fact that we know now that we have to do it within the room and we can’t rely on him to come back and help us out. Different guys are going to have to realize they’re going to have to step up. For him, it relieves the pressure that he has to rush back and continue to progress every single day to try and rush back to playoffs. Now, he can take his time and worry about getting better mentally and hopefully come back for next year.”
|Marc Savard: ‘I feel so bad’ for Nathan Horton||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.
|Nathan Horton done for the season||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.
|Peter Chiarelli says Nathan Horton ‘a longshot’ to return this season, gives updates on Tuukka Rask, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid||04.08.12 at 1:01 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said on a conference call Sunday that while he won’t rule Nathan Horton out for the season, the veteran winger is a “longshot” to play again this season after suffering his most recent concussion in January.
Horton began skating last week but has not yet been cleared for contact. Chiarelli noted that Horton is “quite far off right now” as he still has occasional post-concussion syndrome issues. Even if Horton were to be cleared for contact, Chiarelli said the 26-year-old would still need “a couple of weeks” before he would be ready to play in games.
“Well, certainly if he were to be cleared at some point, he’d need at least a couple weeks to get back so he’s quite far off right now,” Chiarelli said. “I know he’s skating, [but] he’s had little bouts here and there with post-concussion symptoms so it’s a long shot. I’m not going to rule him out yet but it’s a longshot.”
In 46 games this season, Horton has 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points and an even rating.
On the status of the team’s other injured players, Chiarelli said defensemen Johnny Boychuk (bruised knee) and Adam McQuaid (swollen eye) are both “day-to-day,” while he considers goaltender Tuukka Rask “a little bit more than day-to-day” as the Finnish netminder looks to return from an abdomen strain/groin strain. If Rask is unable to play, Anton Khudobin will be Tim Thomas‘ backup when the playoffs begin against the Capitals.
|Claude Julien: Nathan Horton ‘not close’ to returning, but Tuukka Rask is progressing||04.04.12 at 1:34 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins saw both Nathan Horton and Tuukka Rask take the ice prior to Wednesday’s practice. For Rask, it means things are continuing to progress. For Horton, it’s a small step in the right direction.
Rask has been skating since Monday, as he aims to make a return from his abdomen strain/groin strain by the playoffs. The Bruins have Anton Khudobin up with the team now, and it’s likely that he’ll start Thursday’s game against the Senators. That should give Khudobin a little more NHL experience (he’s played six games for the Wild) before the playoffs start if he’s needed as Tim Thomas‘ backup, but in a perfect world the Bruins would have Rask back.
“Tuukka’s been skating for a few days, and he’s coming around,” coach Claude Julien said after Wednesday’s practice. “We hope to have him with us soon, at least in practice.
“With Nathan, it’s just going out there — nothing more than just skating and trying to get a feel of how things are. Nothing more than that. He’s not close to joining us as we speak. Still keeping our fingers crossed that it’s going in the right direction.”
Horton has not played since Jan. 22, when his second concussion in less than seven months forced him out of the lineup. His attempt at a comeback has been shaky this season, as he suffered a setback after trying to skate in February.
The Bruins don’t know whether they’ll get Horton back at any point in the playoffs, as the postseason can last up to two months. He’s a longshot to return soon, but Julien says Horton is in good spirits.
“He’s in a good spot emotionally,” Julien said of Horton. “I haven’t talked [to him] about anything related to hockey and him coming back. The last thing he needs is for his coach to start asking those kind of questions. That’s not my job and it’s certainly not something that would be a positive thing to do.
“I leave him be. Everything I do with him is small talk — how are you doing today — and he’s looking good color-wise. He seems to have good color, and we see he’s happy. Those kind of things are encouraging.”
|Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask skate prior to Bruins practice||at 11:14 am ET|
WILMINGTON — In an encouraging sign, Bruins forward Nathan Horton and goaltender Tuukka Rask skated for 40 minutes with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides prior to Wednesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. Neither players was not on the ice as the team began their practice Wednesday.
Horton has been out since Jan. 22, when he suffered his second concussion in seven months. He tried skating in February, but had a setback and was shut back down. Wednesday marks the first time he has skated since then.
Whether Horton returns to the Bruins at any point in the postseason remains unclear. In 46 games this season, he has 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points.
Rask suffered an abdomen strain/groin strain on March 3. He said recently that he hopes to return in time for the postseason.
Johnny Boychuk, who left Tuesday night’s game in the third period, did not practice, while Jordan Caron returned to the ice after staying away from the team Tuesday with flu-like symptoms.
|The Bruins entering the postseason: a look at how records over the last five years compare||04.03.12 at 11:53 am ET|
Back in November and December, it seemed as if the Bruins were poised to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Boston went 21-3-1 over those two months, outscored opponents by a 101-43 margin and did not lose a game in regulation throughout all of November.
The second half of the season, however, has not gone quite as well. The Bruins went two months without putting together back-to-back wins, lost a few key players (Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley, Tuukka Rask) to injury and admitted to reaching a doldrums in effort-level that put their playoff positioning into question.
With just three games remaining in the season, however, the Bruins have secured a spot in the playoffs and clinched the Northeast Division, thereby ensuring themselves of the No. 2 seed entering the postseason. Although their postseason position is set, questions remain about how the sluggish second half might affect the team in the playoffs.
A glance at the team’s performance since February 1 over the last four seasons revealed that although this season’s Bruins have come back to earth since their early-winter success, they still are not far off from the team’s typical pace at this time of year. Here’s a quick look at how the Bruins have fared in February and March during their string of five consecutive postseason appearances.
Final record: 41-29-12 94 points
Record since February 1: 14-10-7
Final 10 games of regular season: 4-2-4
Playoff result: Lost in first round to Montreal (4-3)
Final record: 53-19-10, 116 points
Record since February 1: 17-11-4
Final 10 games of regular season: 8-2-0
Playoff result: Swept first round series against Montreal, lost in second round to Carolina (4-3)
Final record: 39-30-13, 91 points
Record since February 1: 16-10-3
Final 10 games of regular season: 6-4-0
Playoff result: Beat Buffalo in six-game first round series, lost in second round to Philadelphia (4-3)
Final record: 46-25-11, 103 points
Record since February 1: 18-10-4
Final 10 games of regular season: 6-3-1
Playoff result: Won Stanley Cup
Current record: 47-28-4, 98 points (could finish with as many as 104 points)
Record since February 1: 15-14-2
Last 10 games: 5-1-1 (three games remaining)
Playoff result: ?
Based on these results, the Bruins are still in good shape entering the playoffs. They are putting together wins now, and when they have had a winning record in their last 10 games, they have advanced to the second round. The Bruins also average about 16 wins in the last two months of the regular season over the last four years, and they are on pace to hit that mark this season.
They are in the middle of where they have been the past few years in point totals, and have won the second-most games of any Bruins team in the last five years with three games left to play.
The one difference between last year’s Stanley Cup championship team was its win differential since the beginning of February, which at a plus-4, was higher than it will be this season and better (albeit very slightly) than any other Bruins team in this five-year string of consecutive playoff appearances.
Of course, there are many other factors that translate into playoff success. Injuries will be an issue for the Bruins this season, as neither Horton (concussion) or Rask (groin) have been able to return to the lineup yet. Teams go on hot streaks while others suddenly go cold (think Bruins collapse in the second round of the 2010 playoffs). Sometimes, playoff favorites suffer stunning upsets and other times, Cinderella stories change a team’s fortune in the blink of an eye.
But in terms of records and win-loss trends at least, the Bruins are right on track to at least put up a fight in their campaign as defending Stanley Cup Champions.
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