By Joe Haggerty
WILMINGTON Nathan Horton is feeling just fine. His unimpressive start to the season has nothing to do with clearing cobwebs or being tentative after suffering a concussion last June at the hands of an Aaron Rome headshot.
The Bruins right winger has struggled out of the gate this season and seemingly looked out of synch since training camp, and has completely disappeared in the first three games of the season. Horton has totaled a single shot on net and zero hits in three games for the Bruins, and hasnt been a physical presence or offensive threat thus far this year.
Horton, of course, showed himself to be a very streaky player during his first season in Boston, and the good stretches came at just the right time with a couple of Game 7 winners during the playoffs.
Milan Lucic shouldered some of the responsibility for Hortons sputtering open to the season, and felt that both he and his center could do a better job setting up their powerful right wing with improved opportunities. But the Bs power forward said he checks in with good friend Horton on a regular basis to see how hes feeling, and any downturn in production has nothing to do with residual effects from last year.
In my eyes Horton has always played really well. Personally I feel like we havent found him enough or passed the puck to him in areas where hes most dangerous, said Lucic. As a linemate thats what me and our centermen need to do better so that we can make him more dangerous.
I talk with him a lot about coming back from the concussion to see how hes feeling, and hes feeling good. Hes going out there and trying, and I think from a line standpoint we need to step it up a little, play with a little more feistiness and bang, and that becomes contagious.
Claude Julien mentioned potentially breaking up Bostons No. 1 line after Mondays shutout loss to the Colorado Avalanche given the sluggish season opening, but its thought the coachs words were meant more as a spark for Horton and Milan Lucic.
The Bs coach was instead preaching patience with his big bookend wingers prior to Wednesday nights game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Its a work in progress and some guys find their games more quickly than other to start the season, said Bruins coach Claude Julien. Its a work in progress.
With David Krejci injuring his knee during Tuesdays practice, however, it appears the Bruins will be making some changes to the top line out of necessity rather than shake things up.
It remains to be seen how Horton and Co. respond if Tyler Seguin is given the promotion to centering the top line between the big bookend wingers. But it cant be much worse than the last three games from Horton now can it?