It was a long journey to the NHL playoffs for Boston Bruins right wing Nathan Horton
, but ever since the B's began their run to the Stanley Cup Finals, the forward has made himself right at home in the postseason.
|Thomas, left, celebrates with Horton after they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Eastern Conference final series, Friday, May 27, 2011, in Boston. The Bruins won 1-0 on Horton's goal in the third period. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) |
"Well he certainly has played like a big-game player," said Julien of Horton's work in Boston's victories over Montreal, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. "Overtime goals, game-winning goals.
"I think for a guy who hasn’t played in the playoffs for many years, he’s certainly kept a lot of energy inside of him and a lot of...excitement to go out there and play the way he did.
"I thought it was fitting, not just for him, but for our team," said Julien of Horton's game-winner in Game 7.
Postgame, Horton wasn't waxing poetic or philosophical, but he made his point.
"I’m excited to be here and it feels good," said Horton, simply, but while wearing his trademark smile. "It keeps getting better.
"It’s definitely nice to score a game winner and just be a [contributor as a] player to our team to help them win.
"And that feels pretty good," he said.
Thanks to Horton, all of the Bruins are feeling pretty good.
"He’s a great guy," said Horton's center Nathan Horton
. "He wants to be here and win really bad.
"He just made some adjustments and came back and scored the game-winner. He’s got some big goals for us.
"Game seven against Montreal and the game-winner here," he said.
Defenseman Andrew Ference
made the pass to Krejci who fed Horton for the game-winner.
"I was waiting for that all series," said Ference. "I mean, game one we drew that play up.
"I said, boys, look for this play, look for this play, it’s gonna work, it’s gonna work. And finally, you know. We tried it a couple times and tonight was the first time it really just worked perfect, the timing and everything.
"Krech came through at a perfect timing. Obviously the finish was sick," he said.
At the other end of the ice, winning-goaltender Tim Thomas
"We had a little talk earlier...and I was just saying let’s go. I said something about do it again tonight. I know you’re going to," said Thomas. "And then I said, 'Let’s do it together.' And sure enough look who came up big.
"He’s a big money player," added Thomas. "There’s no doubt about it -- a big time player."
And now that big time player is going to the big dance with a team that hasn't been there since 1990.
"Well it’s huge," said Horton. "We haven’t done it for a long time as an organization.
"But this is all that matters. We got a great group of guys and I’ve said it all year but the guys do get along and we enjoy each other and we trust each other and that’s been a thing going around the locker room."
Asked again about his first playoff run, Horton could hardly find the words.
"Everything and more," said Horton. "I mean it’s pretty special.
"This is a great position to be in for a hockey player.
"It keeps getting harder and harder to describe into words, but so far it’s been amazing and I’m sure it’s just going to keep getting better."