He might not win them all, but Nathan Horton’s season-long love affair with mitts hitting the ice and fists hitting faces has led to an interesting wrinkle in his history of violence.
Due to various injuries Horton missed a combined 25 games over the past two seasons while in Florida. So he’s either watching Slap Shot on a continuous loop when he’s not at the rink, or Horton decided to use his new-found ability to stay healthy this year to get in touch with his inner anger.
Over those last two seasons in the sunny south, Horton didn’t receive a single fighting major. In fact, Horton’s foray into fisticuffs this season–he’s fought seven times–easily exceeds his total fighting majors over his last three seasons (four), and his previous career high of three in 2007-08.
Taking Horton’s Karate Kid emulation one step further, his snot and possibly nose cartilage-dislodging bout with Ottawa’s Zack Smith this afternoon achieved an impressive feat. With his seven majors this season, Horton has now eclipsed his six total fighting majors over the previous six years of his career. His 83 penalty minutes this year is also just short of his career-high of 89 with one game remaining on Boston’s schedule.
That’s some serious rage. We’d give Horton a stick or glove tap, but we’re afraid he’d clock us straight in the beak.
Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, because this sudden spike in violence doesn’t make Horton the next reincarnation of Dave Semenko. It does, however, confirm our suspicions of a potent anger-advancing agent being placed in the water at the TD Garden, as Horton’s penchant for punch-ups comes after being signed from Florida last summer.
Like any male who breathes oxygen, I enjoy a good scrap. But the spontaneous bouts where the two combatants are unmistakably enraged are far more entertaining, and Horton’s fights are usually perfect examples. Similar to Sidney Crosby in his rare fights, during those few moments of fighting when blinding anger engulfs the mind and body, it seems like the only thing that will satiate Horton’s desire for mayhem is slamming his opponent through the glass repeatedly.
Horton’s rugged play has been about more than just sheer rage. It’s been the spark that ignited his stagnant scoring. Between mid-December and the beginning of February, Horton maintained a very average offensive output by his standards. He had scored 10 points over 26 games, a stretch that also included 11 pointless games.
Then on Feb. 9 Horton had six penalty minutes during that infamous slugfest against the Canadiens, and he also scored five points. In the 27 games since that night Horton has accumulated 40 penalty minutes–nearly half of his total–and 12 of his 26 goals.
See, sometimes it just feels good to let the anger out. Serenity now, insanity later.