Nathan Horton

Claude Julien says Nathan Horton is absolutely not playing tonight; May skate in warmups though

After what happened to Nathan Horton in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals receiving a severe concussion thanks to a wicked hit from Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome, Horton’s injury has been a point to rally for the Bruins through the series. Before the start of Game 4, Bruins legend Bobby Orr got the crowd roaring waving Horton’s flag as he was the honorary captain of the night. Meanwhile, the team pushed back harder to shutout the Canucks as chants of “Nathan Horton” echoed through TD Garden. During Game 6, Horton was in attendance and waved to the fans from the tunnel sending the crowd into a frenzy in Boston.

If that wasn’t enough to get the Bruins stirred up, Horton flew to Vancouver with the team to be with them for Game 7 tonight to share in what could be a crowning moment for the team. Horton’s appearance in Vancouver led many to wonder aloud if Horton might actually play just a week after being knocked out of Game 3 and the rest of the series. Bruins coach Claude Julien put that all that talk to rest this morning in Vancouver.

CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty was on hand this morning when the question about whether or not Horton might play was posed to the coach.

Julien scoffed at the question during Wednesday morning’s availability after speculation mushroomed after CSNNE.com reported Horton was on the team charter flight to Vancouver with his teammates

“No,” said Julien while cutting off the question of whether Horton would play. “It’s ridiculous. So let’s put an end to that.”

While having Horton play is ridiculous, apparently the notion of him taking the warm up skate with the team before tonight’s Game 7 isn’t as crazy. Word is circulating around Rogers Arena tonight that Horton will in fact dress for the pregame skate and presumably give the team that one last emotional lift they’re looking for before the start of tonight’s winner-take-all Game 7.

TSN’s Darren Dreger as well as the Kurtenblog boys mentioned on Twitter that there’s strong speculation that Horton will take warmup tonight. Taking warmup to inspire the team is one thing and a really great move by the Bruins to allow that as long as he’s healthy enough to stand it. The notion that he might play, however, is insanity.

If, by some stroke of medical malpractice or miracle Horton is allowed to play, the NHL will have a lot of questions to answer regarding their concussion protocols, the doctors who would allow such a move, and as well as their punishment protocol for suspending Aaron Rome for an unprecedented in the Stanley Cup finals four game total.

We’d bet our house that Horton isn’t going to play but since the speculation is going to swirl about that before the game starts anyhow, it needs to be addressed no matter how crazy it is. It’s a great gesture for the Bruins to give Horton that one last taste before hitting the press box tonight but the idea he might play is insanity. For the Bruins sake, let’s hope they don’t need any further inspiration than Horton just taking a few laps on skates before the game to get them going. If they need him on the ice badly to rally their thoughts, they’ve got bigger problems to deal with.

WATCH LIVE: Stanley Cup Final Game 1 – Sharks at Penguins

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Pittsburgh Penguins fans sit outside of Consol Energy Center prior to Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The wait is finally over. The 2016 Stanley Cup Final is about to begin.

Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks received some time to lick their wounds after three grueling playoff rounds, so expect Game 1 to be fun, even if there might be a subtle bit of rust here or there.

The star power is considerable. The beards are burly (at least on the Sharks’ side). It’s time to get cracking.

Game 1 airs on NBC. You can also stream it via the link below and enjoy some “NHL Live” coverage leading in.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Vlasic on the unenviable task of matching up against Crosby

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 21:  Marc-Edouard Vlasic #44 and Sidney Crosby #87 of Canada look on during the Men's Ice Hockey Semifinal Playoff against the United States on Day 14 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 21, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
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Plenty of people believe that the San Jose Sharks’ defense is superior to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ personnel, but it’s one thing to be better on paper. When you’re on the ice, against a speedy and talented team, can you really stop the Penguins?

All signs point to sorely underrated Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic drawing the difficult assignment of trying to slow down Sidney Crosby.

Vlasic, a former Team Canada teammate of Crosby (as you can see from this post’s main image), realizes that he’ll have his hands full. In fact, he seems to believe that this will be an even tougher challenge than trying to solve St. Louis Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko.

The fantastic all-around defender isn’t exactly expecting to reinvent the wheel in his strategy against Crosby.

“It will be the same as in the first three series,” Vlasic said, via The Hockey News. “We’re playing against the top players on every time – Sid, (Evgeni) Malkin and those types of guys for Pittsburgh. Me and (Justin Braun) will just keep doing what we did, taking away time and space and hopefully it works out.”

The two players have had glowing things to say about each other for some time, but don’t be surprised if this high-level competition turns those happy thoughts into hard feelings.

It stands as one of the matchups to watch in what could be a fresh and fascinating Stanley Cup Final.

Red Wings look to future in net … a future possibly without Howard

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 07:  Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings makes a save against the Boston Bruins during the first period at TD Garden on April 7, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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This summer looks like it could be one of changes for the Detroit Red Wings, even beyond the most obvious storyline of Pavel Datsyuk‘s future.

One area where the Red Wings would like to make some tweaks is in net, namely in trading Jimmy Howard. The Detroit Free-Press points out that GM Ken Holland admitted that moving the former franchise netminder “might be good for the organization.”

It’s reasonable to wonder what kind of market there will be for Howard, whose deal ($5.29 million cap hit through 2018-19) looks pretty tough to stomach on paper.

Maybe it’s best to consider the Red Wings’ options if Howard starts the 2016-17 season off on a strong note, or something of that nature. Perhaps an expansion draft could “solve” that problem if Detroit cannot find any takers?

The Red Wings remain forward-thinking and patient, which likely explains why the Free-Press focuses on their confidence with prospect Jared Coreau.

“In the big scheme of things, he’ll play in Grand Rapids for another year, but now we know he can play a lot of minutes if needed,” Goalie coach Jeff Salajko said. “Jimmy Howard played four years in the minors. We’re not rushing Jared, but he is going to be an NHL goalie, there is no doubt in my mind about that.”

In other words, a pairing of Petr Mrazek and Coreau wouldn’t just be a cost-effective duo … it might just be the Red Wings’ ideal scenario in the not-too-distant future.

Stanley Cup Final referees: McCauley, O’Halloran, O’Rourke, Sutherland

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Referee Dan O'Halloran #13 holds up a face-off between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on December 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
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From the NHL:

refs

Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.

Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.