VANCOUVER – Neither team is short on inspiration going into Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, but the Boston Bruins point to injured winger Nathan Horton as their talisman.
Horton, recovering from a severe concussion after taking a late hit from Vancouver defenceman Aaron Rome in Game 3, is with the team, but only as a spectator. Still the Bruins have kept his gear in their locker-room to show he is still part of the squad.
“There’s a lot of reasons to want to win this for different people and right now Horton’s the guy we’re talking about,” coach Claude Julien said Wednesday morning in advance of the Cup decider against the Canucks.
“At the end of the day, the winning team’s going to have a lot of reasons to celebrate in this series. And everybody knows it will have been a hard-fought series. Winner takes all tonight and we’re willing to live with that.”
Boston left-winger Milan Lucic, a Vancouver native who played for his hometown Giants in the Western Hockey League, also said Horton was a driving force for the Bruins. But he acknowledged both teams have sources of inspiration, noting Canuck Manny Maholtra’s return from a serious eye injury.
“There’s a lot of great stories, that’s for sure,” Lucic said. “Obviously it was lifting for them when Manny came back. Regardless if you’re his teammate or not, you never want to see a guy go down with an injury like that and it’s great he’s able to recover from that.
“But for us, it was kind of like a spark almost was lit underneath us when Nathan took that hit. We were able to ride that wave . . . Going into this game, we have Nathan here and they have Manny in the lineup. Hopefully we can find that momentum that we found in Boston.”
The Bruins have had plenty of support back home.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona called Julien to wish him luck, and Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics and Bill Bellichek of the New England Patriots have also got behind the Bruins.
“I like the way that the coaches in Boston really support each other,” Julien said.