Since the Boston Bruins don’t drop the puck on their Eastern Conference finals matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins until Saturday night, I figured we would look back on some of the best moments from Nathan Horton‘s run as a Bruin to commemorate the day on which he turns 28-years old. (I know my title is a tad bit more morbid than that, but we can get to Horton’s future with the Bruins later.)
Horton came to Boston in June of 2010 via trade along with current 4th line center/cult hero Gregory Campbell. Much maligned defenseman, Dennis Wideman was sent to the Florida Panthers, as well as the Bruins first round pick (15th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, and their third round pick in 2011 in exchange for the two forwards.
Horton had never scored less than 20-goals in an NHL season and was a former 3rd overall pick, so it wasn’t too high a price to pay for a guy who would go on to score some of the most memorable goals in Bruins history. Speaking of those goals, now would be a good time to go back to game 7 versus the Montreal Canadiens in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Bruins had stumbled out to an early 0-2 hole in the first round series against the Canadiens. But they rallied and were able to turn the series around and force a game 7 in Boston.
The sting of 2010′s epic playoff collapse was still fresh on everyone’s mind and the Bruins recent game 7 history just didn’t make anyone feel overly confident about their chances. Horton had already scored an overtime winner (double-OT to be exact) in the series and was back at it again after the Bruins blew a late one-goal 3rd period lead in game 7 and the game would be headed to OT.
I get chills still just watching that goal, don’t think I’ve ever jumped off my couch any higher either. It was pure elation, but Horton wasn’t done just yet in the 2011 playoffs. The Bruins went on to sweep the lifeless Philadelphia Flyers in the next round and would face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals. The two teams were evenly matched and for the 2nd time in the playoffs, the Bruins were headed to a game 7 in Boston.
Now I just have to say, that the game 7 between the Bruins and Lightning was arguably one of the greatest hockey games I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness. The game had no penalties and I feel like there weren’t any whistles, just back-and-forth hockey all night. As the game wore on and both goalies looked like they would never give up a goal, Horton made it 1-0 a little past the halfway mark of the 3rd period and it was all the Bruins would need to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Once in the finals, Horton took a big blow to the head courtesy of Vancouver Canucks defensemen Aaron Rome in game 3. Horton was knocked out on the ice and you knew his playoff run was over. However, Horton’s injury sparked the Bruins and they overcame another 0-2 series deficit and went on to win the Stanley Cup. Even on the sidelines Horton did all he could to help the Bruins, check out a pretty cool montage here. Not shown in the video is Horton dumping a bottle of water on the ice in Vancouver before game 7, in the bottle was water from the Boston Garden ice surface because the home team had never lost a game in the series, until that game 7 of course.
Horton is set to be an unrestricted free-agent at the end of this season and with a cap hit of $4 million, it may be tough for the Bruins to resign him. I said tough, not impossible so hopefully the two sides can reach an agreement because when it comes to big/timely goals, their aren’t many guys that have gotten in done for the Bruins like Nathan Horton.
I believe Horton will resign with the Bruins and that his cap hit will be about $3-3.5 million a year. This may make it hard to resign a veteran defensemen like Andrew Ference, but with the emergence of Torey Krug that may not be as big a deal as initially believed.
So like I said, I fully expect Horton to resign with Boston and I think the man once dubbed “Mr. Money” by former goaltender Tim Thomas, still has a big goal or two up his sleeve.