The reasons why Boston may be in on Rick Nash just increased as, according to Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com, Nathan Horton is nowhere close to making a return to the Bruins lineup. The absence of Horton has been a contributing factor to the Bruins recent struggles as they have looked for a way to replace his scoring.
Despite the bleak outlook for Horton, it appears as though the plan is for him to return before the end of the season:
The source stressed there’s every belief that Horton will still return before the end of the regular season, but he’s now missed 11 games and a month of hockey with what was originally diagnosed as a “mild concussion” after a blindside hit from Tom Sestito.
There are only 25 games remaining in the season and the head injury was Horton’s second concussion within an eight-month span.
The recurring concussions are obviously the real red flag here for the Bruins. We all recall the concussion he sustained during game three of the Stanley Cup Finals, and the blindside hit he received from Tom Sestito which caused the most recent concussion probably wasn’t helped in the scrum which ensued.
The offensive struggles have been noticeable in Beantown since Horton went down.
The Bruins are trying not to use it as an excuse, but they’ve been shut out four times in 11 games without Horton while watching their goal production drop from 3.72 goals per game to 1.8 goals per game. Those kinds of numbers speak for themselves as does the players and coaches bemoaning their lack of net-front presence over the last few weeks.
Claude Julien thinks it has definitely played a role.
“It does have an effect. [The injuries] have disrupted our lines and our chemistry with each other. We’ve had to move guys around and that’s been a challenge,” said Julien. “You still have to overcome those things. It’s not an excuse. It’s reality. But we’re still a better team than the one that’s been shut out lately.”
Whether or not this forces the Bruins to make a move at the deadline – they do have enough assets to pull one off – you have to be concerned for Horton’s hockey future either way. The Bruins know first hand how bad an extensive concussion history can be for a player (See: Savard, Marc) and it would be a shame to see Horton go down the same path as he enters his prime.
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