Bruins

Horton: 'I still don't feel like I'm myself'

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Horton: 'I still don't feel like I'm myself'

BOSTON -- Nathan Horton has been out of sorts for nearly the entire season, and only recently there have been modest signs of improvement.

In the seasons first 11 games there were two or three performances approaching Hortons high standards on the ice, and the top line right winger is on a Slowski Family pace for 15 goals, 37 points, a minus-22 and nearly 200 penalty minutes in a series of statistics that dont quite add up for the Game 7 hero.

One of the first steps toward fixing a problem, however, is admitting there is one to begin with. Horton finally went public with the struggles hes experienced finding his game coming off last years season-ending concussion, and related how out of sorts he feels on the ice. Horton is having major difficulty getting that crisp, quick release going off his stick and hes been out of position with and without the puck at points this season.

To be fair to Horton many of the Bruins have gone through this early in the season, but with Horton its been more pronounced and prolonged.

Im still trying to get my game back, admitted Horton, who has managed points in only four of the teams first 11 games this season. I dont feel 100 percent out there like Im myself. Im just trying to get that back.

With my timing and stuff I still dont feel like Im myself out there. I mean . . . Im fine, but I just need to be better obviously. I just need to be better. I had never had a concussion before or whatever. I didnt know what to expect. Obviously it has contributed a slow start, but Im just going to keep working through it. I have to be better, I know I can be better and I want to be better.

The player and the Bruins were both adamant there are no concussion-like symptoms remaining and physically he is feeling fine but Horton also admitted he doesnt feel like himself out on the ice.

Its very similar to the strange limbo existence Patrice Bergeron found himself mired in the season following his own severe concussion, and he knows exactly what Horton is fighting. Bergeron put up a very un-Bergie eight goals and 39 points in 63 games in and out of the Bruins lineup, and looks back at the season as a true bridge year toward getting back to his normal NHL self.

The two Bs forwards havent discussed their now shared experience yet this season, but Bergeron said his door is always open if Horton has any questions about life after the first big concussion.

That year when I came back it was more a question of timing and execution, and all that. I felt fine, but I also felt like maybe I was forcing things a little too much and putting too much pressure on myself, said Bergeron. I know what hes going through and hes going to come out of it for sure. Its not easy, but I know hes going to be fine.

The good news for Horton and the Bruins: Hortons concussion wasnt as severe as the one dealt out to Bergeron, and it shouldnt take nearly as long for the right winger to snap out of the haze. Claude Julien has seen evidence Hortons game is coming around, but the statistics and foolish frustration penalties would say otherwise at the present moment.

Last night Horton and his line played a lot better, and they competed better, said Julien. I told them today to put the stat sheet aside and look at what they did. They created some scoring chances and Lucic scored. The other two had their chances and played better. If they continue to compete like that then its only a matter of time before they start getting rewarded with goals, assists and everything else.

Horton has had a slow start to the season. I think anybody thats missed an amount of time with a concussion is going to be slow coming back. You saw Bergeron take half or of a year to come all the way back and Marc Savard when he came back too. Whether its hesitation or whatever it is, it can take some time to come back from a concussion. Its something weve noticed along the way.

Horton admitted that his Falling Down impersonation of Michael Douglas in the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes was regrettable, but he didnt have as big a problem with the cross-checking penalty in the third period against the Montreal Canadiens last weekend.

Or the boarding penalty last night against the Senators when pucks werent falling into open nets for him.

Or his decision to skip speaking with the media masses following a needed win.

Instead Horton seemed to be speaking like a man looking for a clean slate to this season after Wednesdays practice at the Garden, and its justified given the fog that hasnt quite lifted from his game after a cheap shot from Aaron Rome in the Finals.

Horton saw some of the fog start to dissipate Tuesday night against the Senators, and thats good news for a guy battling just to get back to normal on the ice again.

Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe

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Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe

The Bruins seemed to discover a winning formula on the West Coast. Now the challenge is to keep it going.

It took them more than a month of play in the regular season, but they finally won two games in a row. Anton Khudobin and the B's played strong defense and finally built leads against the Kings and Sharks, and they avoided the kind of soft goal or defensive mistake that has been at the heart of so many of their losses.

Clearly that kind of tight, defensive game is how they're going have to play until they get their full lineup back, and they need plenty of wins. They're currently stuck in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, three points out of a playoff spot.

"It's always nice to get a couple of wins, especially against tough teams," said David Krejci, who is scoreless but averaging almost 17 minutes of ice time  in the two games since returning from a back injury. "We knew we had some areas of our game that we had to improve, and we still do after the start to the game we had against San Jose. It's nice to get two in a row, and we're focusing on three in [New Jersey]. We're building toward something, and we're on the right track. It's a big game [against the Devils].

"Playing with a lead, playing good defensively and having a good, structured game with everybody buying in . . . when you have a young team and you're playing strong clubs like LA and San Jose, it really says a lot about what we're trying to do here when you can get the job done."

The good news is the Bruins are going to make it through the Thanksgiving marker within shouting distance of a playoff spot, but they're still just scratching the surface of what they need to do to stay relevant in the East. They're hoping that finally reeling off a couple of consecutive wins can start a run of good hockey at a time when they desperately need it.

"I think we've played as a five-man unit" said Kevan Miller. "Forwards are getting back to help the 'D', and defensemen are stepping up to help the forwards. When you play like that and everybody is on the same page, it makes it that much easier. I think everybody, whether you're coming from Providence or you're up here, has played the same systems, but it can be a little bit of a struggle to get everybody on the same page.

"We've done a pretty good job of that, but doing it for 60 minutes has been a bit of an issue. We're trying to work on that."

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Grzelcyk happy to be back w/ B's and confident in his game

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Grzelcyk happy to be back w/ B's and confident in his game

BRIGHTON, Mass – It had to be a bitter pill for Matt Grzelcyk to be sent back down to the AHL after playing solidly for the Bruins earlier this season. 

The 23-year-old Charlestown native was excellent playing in place of Torey Krug in Boston’s opening night win over the Nashville Predators, but his stay didn’t last very long. The former Boston University standout was back in the minor leagues shortly afterward once Krug returned from his fractured jaw a little earlier than expected. Now Krug is again banged up again with an upper body injury, and Grzelcyk has been called up to fill in for Krug during Wednesday night’s pre-Thanksgiving road game in New Jersey against the Devils.

Once again it will be about a focus on puck-moving and power play for Grzelcyk, who is the closest thing that the Bruins have to the smaller, skilled Krug in their minor-league system. 

“I was happy with how things went before I got sent to Providence, so I’m just going to try to do the things that I was doing well before I got sent down. Mentally knowing that I can play at the NHL level [is huge], and just going through the experience was positive,” said Grzelcyk. “Mentally my first year I think I was a little too nervous and tentatively with my play, and that’s not me at all when I’m at my best. I’m confident with the puck, and confident with my speed and ability. It was just about going out and doing it on the ice.”

Grzelcyk was okay down in Providence with four assists and a plus-4 rating in 14 games, but he’s been patiently waiting for another NHL call since logging 12:11 of solid puck-moving ice time in his lone appearance for Boston this season. Now he’ll get it in a likely pairing with Kevan Miller against the New Jersey Devils

“He’s a puck-mover. He’s quick. He can get up the ice and support the rush, and he’s a good distributor,” said Cassidy of Grzelcyk. “There are a lot of natural similarities to Torey [Krug] because of their physical makeup, but they are similar [players] with Torey at this level being a bit more significant offensive player. Whether it’s in [Grzelcyk] or not time will tell, but we believe it is and we just need to get it out of him.”

Grzelcyk will get a chance to show that offensive wrinkle and more when he suits up against the New Jersey Devils for his second game of the season after paying his dues with the P-Bruins overt the last month. 

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