BOSTON — All right, Nathan Horton, we get it.
You can play with physicality, ferocity and passion when on the game’s biggest stage.
How did we ever doubt you? The Florida Panthers were obviously holding you back.
Now it’s time to tone it down or the veteran forward’s first trek into the Stanley Cup playoffs is going to be as short as rules allow, and he’s going to be a major culprit for the Bruins’ early exit.
For the second straight game, Horton was hitting and battling against Montreal. But he wasn’t effective around the net, he took a dumb roughing penalty behind the Montreal net when his linemate David Krejci was about to have a scoring chance, and then he smashed his stick over the wall near the bench. Part of the stick actually deflected back out onto the ice. So much for the adage “never let them see you sweat.”
If Horton thinks the answer to everything is to get angry, the Bruins are going to need to cut off his Red Bull supply or do something to calm him down. Their No. 1 right winger didn’t manage a shot on goal and spent the third period on a line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder instead of Krejci and Milan Lucic.
“‘Horts’ … we always say he needs to play with an edge and we want him to play with an edge, but not to the point where he gets frustrated,” said head coach Claude Julien. “This is his first experience in the playoffs, he certainly wants to do well. And maybe he just needs to make sure he keeps his focus in the right place. And after playing a couple of games you hope that he’s going to learn those kinds of things. We need him to be focused and we need him to play with an edge and we need him not to get frustrated.”
Horton was not available to speak after the game.
The forward’s hot-tempered actions were a microcosm of a Bruins team that seems to be doing everything composure-wise they said they wouldn’t do leading up to this series. It seems every chance they get they’re trying to go after P.K. Subban. Lucic even tried to get at the Montreal defenseman after he high sticked Subban in the neutral zone.
The Bruins, on the whole, have been driven to distraction. Horton, more than anyone, has lost his head. Boston has one day to pull it all back together before entering as hostile an environment as a visting, archrival road team can enter when the Bruins step onto the Bell Centre ice in Montreal. Game 3 is there Monday night.
Maybe by then all their talk of discipline will turn into actions — or better yet inaction.