Bruins

Horton looking like the Horton of old

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Horton looking like the Horton of old

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- It was clear pretty early in Saturday nights win over the Islanders that Nathan Horton was fully engaged in the proceedings.

A particularly combative first period shift at Nassau Coliseum ended with the big right winger pushing and shoving with Isles scrapper P.A. Parenteau in front of the Boston bench -- a sign that Horton is locked in. In a surprise to exactly nobody Horton responded later in the first period with a power play goal off a Rick DiPietro giveaway, and helped get the ball rolling on Bostons 6-0 shutout victory of the Isles on their Long Island home ice.

We played a really good game with a good start, said Horton. In the third we came out straight, played good defense and were still hustling. Thats exactly what we wanted. We want to keep getting better, keep climbing and keep winning.

Horton finished with two points and four shots on net in 16:28 of action for the Bs, and was the best player on his forward line for the balance of the evening. Milan Lucic picked up a nice assist on Chris Kellys goal in the third period and David Krejci went scoreless for the Bruins, but Horton was physical and offensively involved throughout.

Thats when hes at his best, and Horton might have enjoyed his best game of the year thus far in Saturday nights smashing of the Islanders. Hes still one of the few Bs minus players still kicking around on the Boston roster after a tough start, but hes been a point-per-game player (four goals and four assists) in eight games during the month of November.

You see how he skates and how hes involved, thats the kind of impact that Nathan can have on our hockey club when hes at his best, said Claude Julien. Its nice to see him really turn the corner in the last couple of weeks, and hes really coming along. He just needs to keep it going.

The goal was a thing of beauty for Horton. DiPietro attempted to kill a penalty by fishing out a clearing attempt from behind his net and flipping it straight up the ice, but the puck landed right on Hortons stick by the blue line. Horton collected the puck and snapped it right back at the top left corner of the net while DiPietro scrambled to get back into position between the pipes.

Horton had no idea it was DiPietro at the heart of the egregious turnover, but he was more than happy to return it to sender for his sixth goal of the season.

I just came off the bench and was hoping somebody would throw it up the middle of the ice. I didnt even know it was him that threw it up there, said Horton. I just tried to get it toward the net when I got the puck.

Horton also picked up an assist after starting the transition play that ended with Chris Kellys third period goal, and he nailed the right post with a backhanded shot in the first period that could have easily been his second goal of the evening.

After a tremendously sluggish start to the season Horton now seems right on track with six goals and 13 points, and a willingness to win battles around the net after a tentative opening month. Thats the pre-concussion Nathan Horton that people have become accustomed to in Boston, and hes definitely back in business.

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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