WILMINGTON (CBS) – Midwinter hasn’t been kind to Nathan Horton in a Bruins uniform.
Last season during his inaugural year with the Bruins, the power forward recorded just three goals in 14 games in December. He followed that up with a one-goal January before he heated up and wound up with 26 regular-season goals before his heroics during the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup championship.
Horton is currently in a stretch of eight games with just one goal, which kept him at just three goals total again in 12 games in the 12th month of the year. Now the task for Horton, who has posted 9-13-22 totals through the season’s first 35 games, is to avoid another disastrous January.
“Obviously I don’t want it to happen,” said Horton after practice Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena in preparation for Boston’s game Wednesday night in New Jersey. “All I can do is just go in there and not think too much and just work hard and then really play hard this second half. I think that’s how I make sure it doesn’t happen.”
The Bruins’ team offensive statistics are impressive, with their 3.43 goals scored per game leading the league and their 5-on-5 goal differential of 1.83 also sitting atop the NHL. But getting their first-line forward clicking on all cylinders could help them not only in the short-term, but for the long-term when other prime offensive players might fall into Horton-like slumps.
That Horton hasn’t been able to produce much offense lately is a bit more disappointing because his linemates, Milan Lucic and David Krejci, have heated up of late. Krejci, in particular, is on a roll with a five-game point streak (2-4-6), including two assists in the loss at Dallas Saturday. Lucic has scored a goal in three of his last four games.
“I think I definitely haven’t done as well as I would’ve liked,” said Horton. “But I’m just trying not to think too much … and eventually it’s going to come when you’re working hard. It always does.”
Listen to Horton after practice:
Horton doesn’t want to rely on his linemates to get him going, which is a positive sign. Most importantly, his struggles right now are totally different than any problems he had during his slow start to the season. Bruins followers will remember a frustrated Horton said he wasn’t feeling like himself ever since last June’s concussion. After venting, Horton went out and produced a couple solid offensive games in November.
The turn of the calendar wasn’t kind to Horton. Now it’s up to him to make sure the fresh start 2012 provides allows him to produce the amount of goals the Bruins need from him.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com. He operates TheBruinsBlog.net and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on twitter @TheBruinsBlog.