Horton set up to provide inspiration
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — It’s as if he never got hurt.
Yesterday, Bruins assistant equipment manager Jim Johnson set up Nathan Horton’s stall as though he were ready to play. It will be the same tonight, when a white game jersey will be hanging there, next to his gear.
Horton traveled with his teammates to Vancouver yesterday, and the right wing will be at Rogers Arena for Game 7.
The only thing is, Horton won’t be playing.
He was feeling well enough to travel, but team doctors were prompt to rule out Horton for the duration of the Stanley Cup Final after he suffered a severe concussion in Game 3. Horton didn’t travel to Vancouver for Game 5.
“He wants to play so badly,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “He’d be willing to play through that. So when a guy has that approach and has that will to want to do that for his team and teammates, the least you can do is honor him in your own way.
“Our players chose to honor him by making sure the trainers brought his equipment. Before the game, his sweater’s hanging in his stall. He’s part of our team. We want him there to the end.’’
Horton has been inspiring his teammates despite being sidelined. After Game 4 at TD Garden, he paid a surprise visit to the dressing room. Horton handed the ceremonial team jacket to Rich Peverley after the 4-0 win. His teammates had left the jacket in Horton’s stall after Game 3.
During the first TV timeout of Game 6, Horton stood in the Zamboni entrance at TD Garden and was welcomed on the scoreboard. Horton smiled and waved rally towels, to the delight of his teammates and the fans.
“I was very happy to see him, and I’m very happy to have him around,’’ said Tim Thomas. “I just spent some time talking to him in the locker room.
“He’s a positive guy. His joy for the game and life is kind of like a little kid. That’s a great thing. I personally feed off that. So I was happy to see him today.
“Last night on the screen, I was so focused I didn’t realize he was up there until near the very end. I looked up. I hadn’t been tapping my stick or anything because I didn’t know what was going on.
“I’ve heard from my wife that it was pretty emotional when he was up there.’’
Tonight, as he has in the last three games, Peverley will start on the No. 1 line in Horton’s spot alongside Milan Lucic and David Krejci. Michael Ryder could also see some shifts on the first line depending on how much time Peverley sees on the power play and penalty kill.
Power coming on Throughout this series, the Bruins’ special teams have been a question mark, especially at Rogers Arena. Boston came up empty on power play after power play, including three chances in the first period of Game 5.And while the power play looked better in Boston, the Bruins have to be able to take advantage on the road.
“I thought we’ve been moving the puck pretty well against these guys,’’ said defenseman Tomas Kaberle. “We’ve been getting a lot of good opportunities to score.
“Hopefully it’s going to be working again. It could be the difference in this series.’’
In the playoffs as a whole, the Bruins have converted on just 11.5 percent of their power-play chances. In the Final, the Bruins have scored five power-play goals, but just one has come in Vancouver in 13 chances at Rogers Arena.
“It’s lots of up and downs,’’ said Krejci. “I think last game we had some good chances, we scored a couple goals. We have to build on it. We have to carry it over to the next game. We can’t just be satisfied. I think it’s going to come the next game.’’
Dream come true When he was a boy playing street hockey in Flint, Mich., Thomas pretended to be Red Wings star Steve Yzerman, trying to score the winning goal in Game 7. Now, here he is in the situation he imagined — albeit with a goalie stick instead of a skater’s twig — understanding full well that he might never return. “This may be the only Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final that I ever have in my career,’’ Thomas said. “If we happen to make it again, hopefully we can win before seven.’’ . . . When asked about the nature of Johnny Boychuk’s play that resulted in Mason Raymond’s injury in Game 6, Julien wasn’t in the mood to discuss his thoughts. “I don’t really have time to bother with that when you’ve got Game 7 coming up,’’ Julien said. “We’ve talked more about what we need to do here, not analyzing the injured player of the other team.’’ . . . The Bruins aren’t expected to make any lineup changes . . . Bruins center Marc Savard, sidelined with postconcussion symptoms, didn’t travel with the team yesterday. There is a chance he could fly in on his own today.