Bruins Will Need Group Effort to Overcome Loss of Nathan Horton, While Canucks Won’t Struggle to Replace Aaron Rome

Bruins Will Need Group Effort to Overcome Loss of Nathan Horton, While Canucks Won't Struggle to Replace Aaron Rome BOSTON — One play left two teams with gaping holes in their lineups for the biggest series of the season.

But those voids, and the options available to fill them, are far different for the Bruins and Canucks as they head into Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday at TD Garden.

The Bruins will be without top-line right wing Nathan Horton, who is out for the rest of the series with a severe concussion. Vancouver will be missing Aaron Rome, a depth defenseman responsible for Horton's concussion, as Rome was suspended for four games for his vicious late hit that concussed Horton.

Horton had 8-9-17 totals in 21 games this postseason, and proved a clutch performer in his first taste of NHL playoff action. He scored game-winners in double overtime in Game 5 against Montreal and overtime of Game 7 against the Habs, then had the lone goal late in the third period in a 1-0 victory over Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the conference final.

"Nathan has been huge for us," Bruins forward Chris Kelly said. "He's a big part of the reason we're here. He's a tough guy to replace."

The Bruins won't really replace him. Not with one player anyway. It will take a group effort to make up for his lost production.

"Obviously you can't replace him," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. It's about everyone stepping in and stepping up. I thought we did a good job of that [Monday] night, and we have to carry that over."

Michael Ryder and Rich Peverley split time filling in on the top line beside David Krejci and Milan Lucic after Horton was hurt in Game 3. Ryder might have the best chance of replacing the scoring Horton provided, while Peverley could make it a stronger two-way line.

"I'm not sure what is going to happen," Ryder said. "I played with Krejci before and with Lucic on and off at times. Yeah, I feel comfortable there. I'm not sure what [Bruins coach] Claude [Julien] has planned. But if I get put in that position, I'll have to step it up and make sure I help those guys out as much as I can. I'm not Nathan Horton, but I can try to do what I can out there."

While the line combinations haven't been determined yet, setting the game-day roster will be an easier decision for Julien. Rookie Tyler Seguin was a healthy scratch on Monday and should return to the lineup now. He had six points in his first two playoff games against Tampa, but didn't have another point in his last seven games.

"We realize he's a very young individual that is playing in the Stanley Cup Final right now," Julien said of Seguin. "[That's] a lot to chew on at times. We need to be patient. He also needs to be patient. He's also taking the opportunity of every advantage we're giving him. It's the understanding he knows we're doing the best thing we can for him. He trusts us. I think that's made it a good relationship between him, the coaches, and the rest of the organization. We like his upside. He's going to be a tremendous player."

"As you know with Horton gone now, there's a pretty good chance you're going to see him in the lineup again," Julien added. "He's a good player for us. [Monday] was a tough decision. But when you look back at what happened last night, I think it was the right thing to put Shawn [Thornton] in."

Thornton provided an emotional spark and physical presence in his return in Game 3, and the Bruins will need more of both with Horton gone.

The Canucks, meanwhile, will have less trouble replacing Rome. Even with fellow defenseman Dan Hamhuis injured, Vancouver has veteran Keith Ballard and rookie Christopher Tanev waiting in the wings. Ballard, who has played nine games so far this postseason, figures to get the call.
"These are all guys that played here this year," Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo said. "They're not new guys stepping up. They're guys that have played tons of games for us. We've got unbelievable depth on the back end, so we're not worried about that. We know we've got a guy like Ballard who would be a top-four guy on any team in this league that's going to be stepping up for us, so we're not worried about it."

The Canucks' depth on defense has been a key factor in their success all season, as they've dealt with a number of injuries on the blue line without missing a beat.

"All year long we've used quite a few defensemen," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "We've been able to keep on winning. Obviously this is the Stanley Cup Finals, the two best teams in the league. It's a little bit more challenging."

Just not as challenging as trying to replace a guy like Horton.

Picked For You