CHICAGO - Maybe this time Nathan Horton will catch a break.
The immediate thought when he left the game the other night was this guy has nothing but bad luck in the Stanley Cup final. He didn't play in a single post-season game after his first six seasons with the Florida Panthers. Then he gets traded to Boston, but was knocked out of the championship final in Game 3 with a concussion after he was steamrolled on a late hit from Vancouver Canucks defenceman Aaron Rome.
Horton also missed last year's playoffs with a concussion.
"You want to be there playing at the end," Horton said on Tuesday. He was not made available to talk to reporters on Friday. "I didn't get the chance to be there [two years ago]. Then last year I didn't get the chance in the playoffs.
"Just to be around it is not the same. You want to be in the action. You want to be with the guys on the ice fighting for it. I'm excited to have the opportunity to do it this year."
In what appeared to be a harmless play in the series opener, he jostled with Blackhawks defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson in front of the Chicago goal, but all of sudden hunched over in pain and went to the dressing room.
He had re-injured his troublesome shoulder that initially suffered some damage in a fight with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jarome Iginla on Apr. 20.
Horton, an unrestricted free agent this summer, missed the final five games of the regular season after his scuffle with Iginla, but returned in time for the playoffs and has been spectacular in the past six weeks.
He has seven goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games. With linemates David Krejci and Milan Lucic, the trio has combined for 21 of Boston's 53 post-season goals.
The 28-year-old Horton from Welland, Ont., who is married to the late Jacques Plante's great niece, Tammy, had a strong opener on Wednesday. The rest of the Bruins and head coach Claude Julien certainly took it as a good sign that Horton participated in practice and could be ready for Game 2.
"We'll have to make a decision on him tomorrow," Julien said. "It was encouraging to see him out there today. If he feels good tomorrow, he's in the lineup, simple as that.
"If he's in tomorrow, it's about him playing. If he can't play, I just can't use him once in a while, might as well put somebody in that can play the minutes. If he's in, he's in where he belongs.
If he's in, he's going to be in his position where he plays."
If Horton can't play, Tyler Seguin will jump into his spot on the top line and either Jordan Caron, Jay Pandolfo or Carl Soderberg will take Seguin's position on the third line alongside Rich Peverley and Kaspars Daugavins.
Although Seguin enjoyed a strong game on Wednesday and set up Daugavins for the near game-winner a couple shifts before Andrew Shaw ended the long night for the Blackhawks in triple overtime, Seguin has slumped in this playoff run. He has scored only once despite a team-leading 62 shots on goal.
Horton, meanwhile, has three game-winning goals - as he did the 2011 playoff run, in which he clinched two series in Game 7 for the Bruins - and has been defensively responsible.
The plus-minus statistic doesn't mean much to some hockey folk, but you can't overlook Horton's plus-22 rating, the highest plus-minus rating in a post-season since 1985, when Edmonton Oilers Wayne Gretzky (+28), Paul Coffey (+26) and Jari Kurri (+24) won their second Stanley Cup.
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