March 28, 2012

Reports have begun to surface about the status of Bruins’ forward Nathan Horton. It is said that he is “not close to returning” and that he could very well be shut down for the remainder of the season, including the playoffs.

Horton has not played since Jan. 22 of this year. He was injured in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers after he took a shot to the head from winger Tom Sestito. At the time, he was diagnosed with a mild concussion and was listed as day-to-day. He tried to resume skating, but experienced a major setback.

Horton tried to rush things back as he was trying desperately to help a struggling Bruins team. However, it may have cost him long term. To this day, he still has not been cleared to skate. All he is able to do is work out on the stationary bike. It has been well documented that Horton has had a history with concussion problems. He was blindsided on a hit by Canucks’ defenseman Aaron Rome in game three of the Stanley Cup Finals and missed the last four games.

The 26-year-old power forward has played in 46 games this season and recorded point totals of 17-15-32. Horton had a slow start to the season, and he himself attributed it due to his head injury. Once he started to get more comfortable on the ice, his game began to resurface.

With the way things are looking right now, it looks like the Bruins will have to make another deep playoff run without Horton. They won the Cup last season in spite of his absence and they have acquired the weapons at this year’s trade deadline to do it again.

Joe Haggerty, Bruins insider for Comcast SportsNet New England, says that a lot of people are downplaying his injury. “If it was not for Horton, the Bruins would not have even had the chance to play for the Stanley Cup,” said Haggerty. “He had three game-winning goals, two of which were in two different game sevens.”

Let’s step back and look at this. The goal that Horton had in game seven of the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals against the Montreal Canadiens was in fact a big goal. However, if you look at the way that game went, Montreal was one lucky bounce away from advancing. On the flip side, the Bruins had control of much of the game. Arguably, it was just a matter of time before they were going to beat Habs’ netminder Carey Price for the game winner.

The second goal that he had was in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tamps Bay Lightning. Boston had dominated that game from whistle to whistle and from puck drop to puck drop.

When Horton did record the game’s only goal, it was heavily contributed to a gorgeous pass from B’s center David Krejci. That pass was so perfect that even goaltender Tim Thomas could have scored on the play. All Horton had to do was skate to the net and the puck was waiting right there for him on his tape.

Once the Bruins finally began the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks, the Bruins went down 0-2 with Horton in the lineup. After he went down, the Bruins took four-out-of-five to win it all.

The Bruins did indeed win the Cup without Horton. More recently, when they went on that 21-2-1 tear through November and December, he only had 17 points and went 13 games without a point. He was just starting to find his rhythm again, but bad timing has caused him to miss potentially the remainder of this season.

The Bruins are obviously a better team with him in the lineup. With that being said, this team is too loaded to become overly concerned with his absence.

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