Horton to Play in Game 2 Tonight
CHICAGO, IL - Nathan Horton will be in tonight's lineup, as the Bruins take on the Blackhawks in Game Two of the Stanley Cup Final at the United Center.
The forward joined his teammates on the ice for practice for the second straight day. He took the first rushes with usual linemates Milan Lucic and David Krejci. And for two consecutive days, he appeared to have no limitations.
Following the skate, both Horton and Bruins' Head Coach Claude Julien confirmed that the forward would be in the lineup.
"I feel good, I'm going to be ready," said Horton, as the media crowded in around his stall, awaiting the final word on his status for the night. "I'm excited."
No. 18 respectfully declined to talk about the specifics on his injury, but assured that he is "not in any pain, I feel good. Like I said, I'm ready to play. That's it, I'm just excited to get going."
Horton left the Game One, 4-3 triple overtime loss in the first OT on Wednesday night at the United Center with an undisclosed injury and did not return. He had been termed "day-to-day" until the announcement this morning that he's good to go.
It was difficult for Horton to watch - and not be able to contribute on the ice for the rest of Game One - as his team powered through the triple overtime.
"It was tough. It's a long game, but obviously we didn't come out on the right end of it. We've got a chance to turn that around tonight."
And Horton isn't worried about the Blackhawks targeting him.
"Well, it's the playoffs," said the forward. "Everyone's playing physical, everyone's playing strong, that's the way the game is out there. I have no limitations, good to go."
A short time after Horton wrapped up speaking with media, Coach Julien said "he's in tonight, he feels good."
"He feels really good. He looked really good out there the last two days.There's absolutely no reason at all why he shouldn't play tonight."
When speculations swirling the past two days since Game One whether Horton would play or not, Coach Julien was firm in addressing what would happen if the forward was ready to be in the lineup -- there would be no limitations.
"If he's in tomorrow, it's about him playing," Julien said following the team's Friday practice. "If he can't play and I just use him once in a while, might as well put somebody in that can play the minutes. If he's in, he's in where he belongs. I'll be very straightforward with you guys on that. If he's in, he's going to be in his position where he plays."
Horton's line with Krejci and Lucic combined for two goals and six points in Game One.
"It's huge, obviously. He is definitely a warrior and helps our locker room," said Tyler Seguin, who was ready to step into a role on the Krejci line if needed.
"Definitely a guy like Horton works hard and is definitely a warrior. A guy that will fight through pain. Anytime he plays in a game, he always brings a lot to our locker room. We are looking forward again to seeing him in action.
Horton Boost to B's
Horton is obviously a significant part of the Bruins playing in the top six, blending a unique skill set of speed, power and skill, and generating a unique chemistry with Milan Lucic and David Krejci.
Having him in the lineup is not only a benefit to the team on the ice - it's a morale boost to see him excelling in the Stanley Cup Final.
Horton's only postseason play has come with the Bruins, but this is the first time he could have the chance to suit up in all games of the Stanley Cup Final. His run in 2011 was cut short due to concussion, and he missed the 2012 playoffs for the same reason.
He currently leads the NHL with a plus-22 rating. In scoring, he sits second in the league below his centerman, David Krejci (23 points) with seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points in 17 games.
What his teammates say:
Shawn Thornton: "He seems pretty excited about this time of year. He's in a good mood, he's happy. Before the last game he said how excited he was to get going – as is everyone. He's a special talent. When he's going, he's not an easy body to stop."
Daniel Paille: "Nathan’s been great for us. He’s up there in points and he has done a lot of great things. You can tell his skill, especially during playoff time, but he is definitely a key player for us and we can definitely use him."
Milan Lucic on his and Horton's complementary play: "I remember the first time three years ago when Claude put us together, the three of us when Nathan was traded here, and it kind of just clicked right away and I think our styles compliment each other and it's been successful so far."
What his opponents say:
Patrick Kane: "He's a big part of that top line. They have a lot of depth; you saw Seguin out there the last game, he's a good player too. I think that line's been the most dangerous line in playoffs. He's had a great playoffs too. We know what he can do out there, the plays he makes, The one on the first Lucic goal, he kind of touched it back to him; most players can't make that play. He's skilled, he's physical, he's a big part of their lineup."
Patrick Sharp: "He’s a great player and he is a part of that line that is certainly clicking right now, tough to match up with."