BOSTON — Aaron Rome(notes) of the Vancouver Canucks ended Nathan Horton's(notes) season in Game 3; which is to say a defenseman averaging 13:01 per game in ice time sent a playoff hero for the Boston Bruins out of the Stanley Cup Final on a stretcher, following a late hit.
As Nick Cotsonika wrote Monday night: It's quite a trade-off for the Canucks, and that's the "brutal truth" of it.
From the Bruins, the predictable but still lamentable news:
Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that forward Nathan Horton will miss the remainder of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs due to a severe concussion. The injury occurred during the first period of Game 3 of the Bruins/Canucks Stanley Cup Final on Monday, June 6 after a hit by Canuck defenseman Aaron Rome. After the play, Rome was assessed a five minute major for interference and a game misconduct.
The 26-year-old Horton is tied for second on the Bruins in playoff scoring with 17 points on eight goals and nine assists. He tallied three game-winning goals this postseason, including the winners in both Game 7's the Bruins have played this year, against Montreal on April 27 and against Tampa Bay on May 27. Horton finished his first year as a Bruin with 26-27=53 totals during the regular season.
So how does this loss of a top-line player affect the Bruins? Despite the offensive explosion without Horton in Game 3, is this a loss that dramatically diminishes their chances to rally for a Cup?
The hit, one more time:
As for Rome, it's a suspendable offense.
Was it a blindside hit? Not by the NHL's definition. Was it a dirty hit? That would glean malicious intent when Rome was probably just trying to lay a guy out; one hopes that after Jamie McGinn(notes) may have concussed Rome in the conference finals on a hit, he wouldn't go headhunting in the following round.
What the hit was: Dangerous, thoughtless and, above all else, late.
Reader Guillaume Blouin timed the puck leaving Horton's stick and Rome's hit as 0.85 seconds. Others put it at a second. We see it as three clear strides before the hit, and Rome delivering a blow on which he's leaving his skates. Banning him for the playoffs is suspending to the injury; suspending him for two games seems more in line with the offense.
With Horton out, David Krejci(notes) and Milan Lucic(notes) will have a new linemate (or linesmates) for the rest of the series. They've seen brief time with Rich Peverley(notes), Michael Ryder(notes) and Mark Recchi(notes) in the playoffs, according to Dobber; none of them provide the spark or the chemistry that Horton did.
Can the Bruins rally around this devastating injury? Canucks center Ryan Kesler(notes) said he didn't think "it had any impact" on the 8-1 blowout loss in Game 3. It's hard to argue with that when the Bruins toiled through a 5-minute major without a goal.
But for Game 4 and beyond? Hell yes this changes things from a motivation standpoint. You think a finger bite and some taunting inspired the Big Bad Bruins' nasty side upon their return to Boston? They might need to reinforce the boards for Wednesday night.