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Shawn Thornton will have hearing, ‘feels awful’ for hit on Brooks Orpik

12.07.13 at 10:36 pm ET
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Nearing tears in front of his locker stall in the Bruins locker room after Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Penguins, an emotionally shaken Shawn Thornton apologized for his first-period attack on Brooks Orpik in the first period that sent the Penguins defenseman to the hospital.

“Listen, I feel awful. It wasn’t my intention for that outcome,” Thornton said. “I know Brooksie. I’ve gotten to know him over the last several years here. I skated with him in the summer, over the lockout.”

Thornton said he sent Orpik multiple text messages to check on his condition after Thornton was ejected from the game for the hit.

“I’ve texted him a couple of times,” Thornton said. “I feel awful. It was definitely not what I wanted to see or anybody wanted to see.

“Obviously, I made a mistake. I’m aware of it. I’ve been told I’ll be having a hearing. It’s hard for me to say much more other than it was not my intention. I felt sick the whole game.”

Thornton was asked if he felt he was just protecting his teammates after Orpik took out Loui Eriksson and James Neal kneed Brad Marchand in the head earlier in the first period.

“That’s always my job, I guess, to defend my teammates but I’ve prided myself for a long time to stay within in the lines. It’s hard for me to talk about it right now. I can’t say I’m sorry enough. I’m sure I’ll be criticized for saying it but it’s true. I hope he’s doing all right. I heard he’s conscious and talking. I’m happy to hear that.”

Will it change how he plays in the future?

“I really don’t know how to answer that to tell you the truth. I haven’t had enough time to think about it.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Brooks Orpik, NHL, Pittsburgh Penguins Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It

Bruins come from behind to beat Penguins, but dangerous first period overshadows win

12.07.13 at 9:42 pm ET
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Saturday night featured a thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind victory, but they lost two players against the Penguins Saturday night: one to an injury and another to one to a match penalty following an on-ice attack.

After Loui Eriksson left the game as the result of a hit from Brooks Orpik that left the B’s forward clearly woozy, Shawn Thornton twice went after Orpik as the first period went on. The first attempt resulted in a roughing minor when Orpik didn’t accept Thornton’s invitation, while the second was an ugly scene in which Thornton grabbed an unsuspecting Orpik from behind, threw him to the ice and punched him in the head twice, knocking him out and forcing Orpik from the game in a stretcher. Thornton, who has never been suspended before, faces a suspension for the play after receiving a match penalty.

It wasn’t the only dirty play that happened, as the whole fiasco occurred on the whistle that came when James Neal stuck out his leg to knee Brad Marchand in the head. Marchand stayed in the game, while Neal received just a minor penalty.

As for the rest of the game, the B’s came back to score two goals in the final 1:29 to win the game. David Krejci beat Marc-Andre Fleury with Tuukka Rask pulled to tie it, with Zdeno Chara scoring on a wrist shot from the high slot with 13 seconds remaining.

The Bruins and Penguins swapped goals early on, as the B’s followed up a Chris Kunitz power play goal that went in off the skate of Zdeno Chara with Reilly Smith’s sixth goal of the season. Then, following the expiration of his penalty for kneeing Marchand, Neal beat Rask to make it 2-1.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Shawn Thornton. Click here for more on that.

- That would be really bad for the B’s if Eriksson is concussed again, as he already missed five games earlier in the season after suffering a concussion on Oct. 23 against the Sabres. He had been finding on Bergeron’s line with Brad Marchand over the last month, so another disruption from a head injury would be brutal.

Reilly Smith moved up to Bergeron’s line to play in Eriksson’s place.

- How Neal only got two minutes for what would have been the most despicable play of any other game is anyone’s guess. Marchand was down on the ice and Neal stuck out his leg to hit him in the head. Thornton won’t be the only receiving a suspension as a result of this game, as Neal (and maybe Orpik) also figure to hear from the league.

- Smith’s goal was nice and all (it actually came from the same spot where Torey Krug beat Fluery in overtime in the teams’ last meeting), he missed a wide open net right in front on a third-period power play.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Lucic’s goal is further proof of the impact Zdeno Chara has in front of the net. There was no way Fleury could see Krejci’s shot with the 6-foot-9 obstacle in front of him.

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Shawn Thornton facing suspension after Brooks Orpik leaves on stretcher

12.07.13 at 7:56 pm ET
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Shawn Thornton

Shawn Thornton

Bruins forward Shawn Thornton received a match penalty and thus automatic ejection and suspension for a predatory play that forced Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik from Saturday night’s game on a stretcher.

After Orpik crushed Bruins forward Loui Eriksson with a hit that knocked Eriksson out for the game, Thornton tried to fight Orpik minutes later, but when Orpik declined Thornton was sent off for roughing. Later in the period, after Brad Marchand had taken a knee to the head from James Neal, Thornton skated over to a scrum, grabbed Orpik from behind, threw him to the ice and punched him in the head twice.

Orpik remained down on the ice for several minutes before being taken off the ice on a stretcher. The Penguins issued an update following the second period saying that Orpik was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital and was both alert and conscious.

Thornton has never been suspended before, but he is likely to receive a sizable suspension, while Neal is also in line for supplemental discipline. Orpik could also hear from the league for his hit on Eriksson.

Recently, Thornton spoke specifically in an ESPN interview about “the code” that players must adhere to and the pride he takes in it. He even pointed out the scenario of sucker-punching players that are down.

“I take a lot of pride in that. I do,” Thornton said. “People could probably criticize that I’m a little too honorable, I suppose, in some instances. I’ve been a firm believer my whole life that what goes around comes around. If you’re one of those guys that suckers someone when they’re down or you go after somebody that doesn’t deserve it or isn’t the same category as you, that will come back and bite you at some point, too. I also take a lot of pride in the fact that I can play 8-12 minutes a night. I’ve had to work extremely hard on that part of my game to bring more to the table than just fighting. That’s part of my game, but I can do a lot more.”

On Saturday morning, Bruins coach Claude Julien addressed the subject of retaliation as it related to the Bruins opting to not go after Max Pacioretty Thursday night.

“We’re all guilty of that stuff. We’re suspending guys for illegal hits and then we’re punishing guys for good, clean hits,” Julien said. “So where does a guy have the opportunity to go out and play a physical game if there’s a good hit, he knows he’s going to be punished. So I guess there’s that fine line there that becomes important to look at. You want to stick up for your teammate, but at the same time we don’t want to take the good physicality out of the game. And every team is guilty of that; including us.

“We’ve made a reputation of that by saying we’re going to stick together; and that’s great. So you’re treading a fine line there when it comes to that. … If we want to clean up the game, we want to be honest with both sides when it happens to us or against us, let’s call a spade a spade.”

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Adam McQuaid out vs. Penguins, Maple Leafs

12.07.13 at 11:41 am ET
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Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid did not participate in Saturday’s morning skate and will be out Saturday and Sunday against the Penguins and Maple Leafs, respectively.

McQuaid, who re-aggravated a lower-body injury last Saturday against the Blue Jackets, has been working out and will go on the team’s upcoming road trip, Claude Julien said Saturday. The team is aiming for him to resume skating early on next week.

With McQuaid and Johnny Boychuk (out three to seven days with a back sprain) both injured, the Bruins will rely on Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller for the time being.

For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Johnny Boychuk out three to seven days with back sprain

12.07.13 at 10:16 am ET
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Johnny Boychuk

Johnny Boychuk

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli had an encouraging and somewhat surprising update on Johnny Boychuk Saturday morning, as Chiarelli revealed that Boychuk will miss “approximately three to seven days” with a back sprain.

Consider that good news for the B’s, as it was an ugly scene when Boychuk went down following a hit in the corner from Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty Thursday in Montreal. Boychuk was hunched over on the ice, placed onto a stretcher with his head immobilized and rushed to a local hospital.

“I think we dodged a pretty good bullet there personally,” Claude Julien said Saturday. “Those kind of injuries could have serious consequences. We feared the worst and I think we got as good of news as we could get. When he was down he couldn’t breathe, I guess he couldn’t move either. So obviously on the medical side of it, our trainers and the Montreal doctors did the right thing. They took him off on a stretcher, took him to the hospital and they got him checked out. After the MRI yesterday which we did, they found no fractures. So a lot of it has been based on him locking up from going into the boards; muscle spasm and everything else.

“We hope that it’ll be a quicker recovery, kind of sooner than later kind of thing. So it’s hard to tell how long he’s going to be out. Still stiff this morning, still walking around. With those kind of injuries, there’s always that opportunity that the spasm and the stiffness can go away quickly; you never know. Our plan right now is to bring him on the road with us. Certainly not playing tonight, not playing tomorrow — it’s not one of those things — but it’s a situation that we’ll see how it goes from there. I think his diagnosis was maybe three to seven days and stuff like that. Like I said, we’re lucky, and those kind of injuries, as you know, back injuries can have real serious consequences on the player’s future. Like I said, we dodged a bullet and we’re happy about the fact that it’s a lot less severe than initially expected.”

With Boychuk out, the Bruins will rely on either Matt Bartkowski or Kevan Miller (or both depending on Adam McQuaid‘s status) in the team’s upcoming games.

For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Johnny Boychuk has lower back injury, extent still unknown

12.06.13 at 3:08 pm ET
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Johnny Boychuk

Johnny Boychuk

Johnny Boychuk has a lower back injury, but the extent of the injury is still unknown, Claude Julien told reporters Friday. Julien said Boychuk will undergo an MRI on Friday, and that the team should know more after that.

Boychuk suffered the injury in the first period of last night’s 2-1 loss to Montreal when Max Pacioretty checked him into the boards. He was carried off the ice on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital, but he was able to move all his extremities and was cleared to travel back to Boston with the team.

Pacioretty said after the game that he felt terrible about the injury.

“Honestly, I couldn’t even walk you through the hit,” Pacioretty said. “It’s, you know, I felt terrible. I didn’€™t even really know what happened. I was just kind of battling for the puck. I felt terrible after it happened.”

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Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘No maliciousness’ from Max Pacioretty on Johnny Boychuk hit

12.06.13 at 11:56 am ET
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Andy Brickley

Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday, following Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Canadiens in Montreal.

The Bruins had a 1-0 lead after a period but struggled in the second as the Canadiens took control.

“There’s nothing there in way of explaining why they played the way they did in the second period,” Brickley said. “In fact, the four days off should have worked to their benefit in the second period. You knew you were going to get a better push from Montreal than what they were able to give you in the first 20 given the fact that this was game three in four nights for them, plus travel.

“But this Montreal Canadiens team is a little different in the sense that they don’t just try to beat you with their speed and their skill, they do have a little sandpaper to their game. They compete a lot harder for pucks, they know that they had to add that element to their game if they wanted to win the Atlantic Division with a team like the Bruins in there, and the Bruins being — I don’t know if it’s the gold standard, but certainly the measuring stick that you need to play similar to in over to win the division.

“That being said, you expected Montreal to have a much better second period, and for some inexplicable reason, the Bruins played maybe one of the their worst periods of the year — Claude Julien used the word ‘atrocious’ following the game, and you can’t argue with that. When they’ve played poorly in second periods this year it’s been for a variety of reasons, but the common thread is just that lack of — I don’t know if you want to call it a sense of urgency — for me it’s more paying attention to detail.

“I’m lost, really, for an explanation as to why they are so inconsistent in the second periods when they have opportunities to put teams away after 40 minutes.”

During the first period, Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk was checked into the boards by Max Pacioretty and had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher.

“It was a borderline hit. I thought the call was accurate that it was worthy of a two-minute boarding call,” Brickley said. “He tried to get him on the side and not from the back, but it’s in that dangerous area, distance away from the boards and a player almost with his back to you. What they’re trying to do is educate players, even though you’ve played the game a certain way for so long, it has to change because too many guys are getting hurt. They have to continue to work on that and further educate these guys and maybe tweak the rules a little bit to allow you to make different types of hits in those situations.

“But there was no maliciousness there, I didn’t think, from Pacioretty. It was just one of those reactionary hits, two guys battling in an area where always there’s a puck battle. And it was just the awkwardness that Boychuck went into the boards.”

Brickley said he was impressed with how the Bruins kept their composure after the incident.

“As far as the players are concerned, they did a terrific job, I thought, of maintaining some focus. Because your focus and your attention and your emotional feelings change when you see that happen,” Brickley said. “Your focus is totally on a first-place game against your arch rival, a game that you really want, a game that you should out-energize them, and you had some decent things happening in the first period. And now your focus changes dramatically.

“And the Bruins did a pretty good job of doing what they needed to do the rest of that period to take a lead into the intermission. But then to just give it away in the second period was so disappointing.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

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