Bruins Notebook

Practice goes on, not Horton

Skates broken, he is excused

By Barbara Matson
Globe Correspondent / May 2, 2011

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PHILADELPHIA — Things are going so well for the Bruins that when Nathan Horton had trouble getting his skates on yesterday morning, he simply was excused from practice.

“I was getting dressed and my skates were all messed up — I was just about to go on,’’ Horton said after the rest of the team finished its midday practice at Wells Fargo Center.

And yes, Horton was grinning.

“Coach just told me to stay off; my skates weren’t going to be [fixed] in time,’’ said the big winger, who has four goals (two game-winners) and one assist in eight games of the first playoff season of his seven-year NHL career.

“It was going to be really quick [practice]. So I got in an off-ice workout.’’

And here came the Horton grin again.

“I didn’t plan it,’’ he said. “It just kind of happened that way.’’

Coach Claude Julien had a more riveting explanation of Horton’s absence.

“No, it wasn’t supposed to be a maintenance day,’’ said Julien, with what could best be described as a snicker.

“His rivets popped.’’

Of course they did. It’s playoff time, and after the Bruins pasted the Flyers, 7-3, in the opening game of their best-of-seven second-round series Saturday, lots of the Bruins should be tightening their rivets for Game 2 tonight.

The energy spilled off the Boston bench and all across the ice as the Bruins flung shot after shot at Flyers goalies Brian Boucher and Sergei Bobrovsky. David Krejci and Brad Marchand each knocked in a pair of goals, and Horton, Mark Recchi, and Gregory Campbell had singletons.

In a nearby stall of the visitors’ locker room, Milan Lucic, Horton’s linemate, was chatting, looking more relaxed than he had during the first-round series against Montreal, in which he came up with only a pair of assists in seven games.

Lucic didn’t score a point Saturday, but his line collected three goals and three assists, and that has eased some of the pressure on the Bruins’ regular-season leading goal scorer (30).

Lucic glanced over at Horton and said, “He can do whatever he wants.’’

Lucic hasn’t scored since March 22, and the drought was clearly bothering him, though game after game he continued to insist it was not.

Yesterday, he admitted his scoreless stretch had been draining. But when he set up Horton for the winning goal in the second overtime of Game 5 against Montreal, some of the tension broke.

“That was a big thing for me to build off,’’ Lucic said. “I’m looking forward to keeping it going.’’

Julien said he saw a stronger game Saturday from Lucic, who was credited with four hits.

“I think he was better, he was skating better,’’ Julien said. “Although he didn’t get on the scoresheet, you look at what he did, and what his line did, and they were good for us.

“You can’t just keep hammering down on a player just because he’s not on the scoresheet. He did some good things, he threw some body checks, he skated much better, and no doubt he was a good player for us.’’

It won’t be easy Tyler Seguin took Horton’s spot on the line with Krejci and Lucic at practice, and all other lines remained the same during the half-hour session. Still excited about their opening-game romp, the Bruins nevertheless were preparing for a tougher opponent in Game 2.

“Obviously for the most part, games in the postseason are pretty close games,’’ said Chris Kelly. “[Saturday] for whatever reason it wasn’t, but they’re going to come out hard and we’ve got to come out just as hard.’’

Daniel Paille expects the high-energy play to continue in Game 2.

“Especially after [Saturday],’’ said Paille. “Definitely a little more intensity. We pretty much put the puck on net; it was nice to see them go in. They don’t go in like that all the time but that game they did.’’

Ringing up goals brings expectations of more.

“It’s definitely possible, with how things went,’’ Paille said. “If we stay focused with that mentality that it could happen, we should be good.’’

Slots of traffic The Flyers present a different style of play than the Canadiens, and nowhere is it more obvious than directly in front of Bruins goalie Tim Thomas. The Flyers like to charge through at top speed, and they don’t always stop just because there’s a goaltender in the way.

Julien said, “I think it’s pretty obvious [Thomas] got run over a couple times and [the Flyers] are certainly going harder to the net, sometimes crashing into our goaltender, which I don’t think we saw much of that from Montreal, from them or from us. We had a lot of net-front traffic, but nobody crossing the line there.

“[The Flyers] are a team that really likes to play around the net area, from behind the net and then they have two guys on each side or somewhere around the net-front area. So when they have the puck around the net, they don’t really have that third man high that a lot of teams do.’’

Despite the goalie derby the game occasionally devolved into, Julien was not complaining.

“I mean, it’s a playoff series, and there are a lot of fine lines,’’ he said. “As a referee, one thing you don’t want to do is overreact, but you still want to make sure that goaltenders are protected.

“And I think so far I don’t think I’ve seen much there that has really crossed the line. I don’t think it has been a big issue. Not for me anyway.’’

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