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Shawn Thornton contributes to Bruins whether or not he’s playing

04.24.12 at 4:13 pm ET
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Shawn Thornton has always had a team-first attitude. (AP)

WILMINGTON — Shawn Thornton embodies what the Bruins are all about in so many ways, but will he be in the lineup in the biggest game of the season?

Boston had to scratch Thornton in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals due to Patrice Bergeron‘s situation. With Bergeron clearly not 100 percent, Claude Julien had to insert Jordan Caron — a good two-way forward with some experience as a top-six guy — into the lineup in case anything happened to Bergeron during the game. That meant, as was the case when Tyler Seguin heated up in the third round against the Lightning, that Thornton had to sit.

Now, with Bergeron definitely in the Bruins’ lineup for Wednesday’s Game 7, it is unknown whether he will be healthy enough for the B’s to run the risk of going without Caron. Thornton doesn’t know his status, but the veteran isn’t complaining.

“This is my 15th year,” Thornton said. “I’ve been through this a number of times. I don’t know how many playoff games, but I will stay ready for when I’m called upon, whether it’s next game, or whenever it may be. If it’s not next game, then I’ll do whatever I can to support my teammates.”

Last year, a concussion to Bergeron led to Seguin jumping into the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the first two rounds. Seguin scored three goals in the two games the team was without Bergeron, so he remained in the lineup and Thornton was scratched. Seguin looks back on it all and remembers Thornton remaining supportive of him even after the rookie took the veteran leader’s spot in the lineup.

“Thorty’s a great team guy,” Seguin said. “He was the guy that definitely helped me align the way all last year. It doesn’t matter what role he’s doing for the team, he’s always going to be doing whatever he can to help the team out and help us be successful.”

If Thornton’s in the lineup for Wednesday, the B’s will know what they’re getting from the energetic forward. After all, it was a shift by the fourth line — Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille – that started to swing the momentum for the Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals last June after the Canucks took it to the B’s in the early going.

Should Thornton not play, the team will still rely on what he brings in the dressing room as a vocal leader. Regardless of whether he’s in the lineup, he always has something to give the Bruins.

” We appreciate him as a player first and foremost and as a person, but what he does when he drops the gloves is something that is part of his strength,” Julien said. “Sometimes a coach has to make decisions. It’s nothing personal, it’s nothing about necessarily the player’s [experience], it’s what we need for this certain game and that’s all it was.

“He understands that stuff. He’s been through it many times, even before he came here. He’s all about the team and whatever we need to do he’s going to support us. He’s as happy as today as he was the day before he got pulled out of the lineup.”

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Shawn Thornton,
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