Nathan Horton Responds to Claude Julien’s Criticism With Two-Goal Night, But Needs to Play With Such Effort Consistently

Nathan Horton Responds to Claude Julien's Criticism With Two-Goal Night, But Needs to Play With Such Effort ConsistentlyClaude Julien doesn't often call his players out in public, but the Bruins coach did exactly that after Boston escaped Florida with a 3-2 shootout win Monday night.

Following that game, Julien questioned the effort of forward Nathan Horton, who had managed no goals, one assist and just three shots in the previous three games.

"Horton has got to pick up his game, no ifs or buts about it," Julien told reporters that night. "A guy his size needs to get more physically involved. He needs to compete a lot harder. … We need more from him. When he's emotionally engaged, he scores goals and he's a difference maker. He's got to find his game. We're at the point where we're a little shorthanded and we need him to step up."

It was a message Horton heeded, as he responded with a strong effort against Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Julien got two goals from Horton, but not the two points he wanted, as Julien may need to direct similar comments toward the rest of the club after Boston dropped a 5-3 decision to the last-place Lightning.

Horton wasn't perfect. He finished the game a minus-2, as he was on the ice for four Tampa goals in addition to the two he scored himself. He also didn't record a hit in 13:31 of ice time.

But Horton did attempt 11 shots, putting six on the net and two in the net. No other Bruin had more than three shots in what was largely a lackluster effort against the Lightning.

"I definitely need to get shots on the net more," Horton said. "I'm not Wayne Gretzky, but sometimes people think I am. I want to do the best I can. I'm out there trying, whether that's backchecking or just working hard. That's all I can do. Just be myself and like I said, I do need to get my shots off and get more than one or two shots a game. I do know that and that's something I have to work on."

Horton had just 79 shots in 42 games going into Tuesday, an average of just 1.9 a game. He had 18 games with just one shot and five more with none, but finally started to use that weapon more liberally on Tuesday.

Horton pulled Boston even at 1-1 early in the second with a strong individual effort. He intercepted a clearing attempt along the right boards and cut to the front of the net. Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer blocked his initial shot attempt, but Horton collected the puck again and got one through to Tampa netminder Mathieu Garon. Garon made the save, but Horton wasn't done, he followed up that bid with a diving poke at the right post to finally put the puck home on his third try.

After Tampa Bay went ahead again, Horton added another goal late in the second. David Krejci won a faceoff cleanly back to Andrew Ference at the left point. Ference's shot was blocked in front, but Horton pounced on the loose puck and banged it in for another tie.

Horton made a statement with his play in the game, but didn't have a lot to say about Julien's comments after the game.

"He's the coach. He can say what he wants," said Horton, who now has 16-15-31 totals on the season. "I'm not going to comment on that. I'm here for my teammates. I obviously want to be good for them, and that's all that matters."

What matters most now is for Horton to put together this type of effort consistently. His offensive outburst in Tampa can't be a one-time thing, lest he want to hear a lot more from Julien in the future.

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

Yardbarker

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 190,847 other followers