Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Injured Horton making the trip

Categories: Boston Bruins, VAN vs. BOS, Vancouver Canucks

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Boston's Nathan Horton is out of the playoffs because of a severe concussion suffered in Game 3 of the Cup final. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Associated Press) Boston's Nathan Horton is out of the playoffs because of a severe concussion suffered in Game 3 of the Cup final. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Associated Press)
Nathan Horton will not play in Game 7, courtesy of the concussion delivered by Vancouver's Aaron Rome in Game 3. But Horton was feeling well enough to travel with his teammates to Vancouver prior to the series-clinching game. Horton will be in attendance at Rogers Arena.

"I was very happy to see him, and I'm very happy to have him around," Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said. "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.

"[Monday] 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."

Horton was at TD Garden for Game 6. During the first TV timeout of the game, Horton stood in the Zamboni entrance and was welcomed on the scoreboard. A smiling Horton waved rally towels with both hands.

Prior to Game 7 at Rogers Arena, the equipment staff prepared Horton's stall in the visiting dressing room as if he were playing. Before Game 7, his white road jersey will be in the stall. Horton was quickly declared ineligible to play after Game 3 because of the severity of his head injury.

"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."

Bruins hold light practice

The day before Game 5, the Bruins traveled to Vancouver but didn't practice. The following night, they dropped a 1-0 decision to fall behind in the series, 3-2.

So with hopes of changing things up, the Bruins went directly to Rogers Arena after touching down in Vancouver. They held a brief practice that looked more like a morning skate. The Bruins didn't do any systems work or battle drills.

"When you've been on the plane for six hours, we just wanted to come out here, get the blood flowing, and loosen up a little bit to get ourselves ready for tomorrow," Julien said. "Simple as that. I don't think there was anything we did today that was with regards to systems or stuff like that. It was just very, very simple -- getting the guys ready for tomorrow."

Thomas was the only player given a day off the ice.

Raymond's absence affects matchups

Mason Raymond will not play in Game 7 because of a vertebrae compression fracture. Raymond suffered the injury on the first shift of Game 6 when Johnny Boychuk rode him into the boards. Boychuk was not penalized on the play.

"I don't really have time to really 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 could take advantage of Raymond's absence. Raymond had been the right wing on Vancouver's No. 2 line with Chris Higgins and Ryan Kesler. At home, the Canucks had tried to match Kesler's line against Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Rich Peverley. The Canucks could consider Jannik Hansen and Jeff Tambellini among Raymond's replacements.

Much like the entire team, Boston's top line hasn't had much luck on the road. They might have more space against a weaker second line.

Thomas the frontrunner for Conn Smythe

When Thomas was a boy acting out his Game 7 Cup-winning fantasy in street hockey, he wasn't a goalie. Instead, the native of Flint, Mich., was Steve Yzerman.

"Doesn't make sense for a goalie," Thomas said. "But you're saying to yourself, 'Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.' You're not saying Game 6, you know? So this is really what every kid dreams about."

Even if the Bruins lose, Thomas is the favorite to win the Conn Smythe award as the post-season MVP. Other Bruins under consideration include David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, and Patrice Bergeron.

But they all are distant second-place finishers to Thomas.