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Bruins and Flyers locked in 3-3 tie 02.07.09 at 2:23 pm ET
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With Manny Fernandez between the pipes for his first game since Jan. 8, scores by Marc Savard, Byron Bitz, Chuck Kobasew in the first twenty minutes have the Bruins and Flyers tied at 3-3 in the second period. Bitz scored Boston’s second goal on a juicy rebound right at the goal mouth after Mark Stuart’s slap shot from the high point rattled around the Philadelphia cage.

The goal was the first career NHL score for the 24-year-old rookie from Saskatoon. The B’s and Flyers are tied 3-3 after two full periods of play following Philly agitator Scott Hartnell’s game-tying goal in the second period.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Byron Bitz, Chuck Kobasew, Marc Savard
Jumbo Joe Thornton talks about trade from Boston at 1:18 pm ET
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On Tuesday Jumbo Joe Thornton will return to TD Banknorth Garden for only the second time since being traded away from the Black and Gold for Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau back in November of 2005.

The Sharks meet the first overall Boston Bruins at 7:00 p.m. eastern time on VERSUS. Here’s the transcript from the NHL-sponsored conference call on Friday morning with Thornton in anticipation of the showdown between the Best in the West and the Best of the East. It’ll be Joe’s second tilt at the Garden since getting dealt by Harry Sinden and Mike O’Connell back in 2005, and he said that much of the emotion left the matchup for him following the 5 minutes, 13 seconds he played the last time he was in Boston.

Here’s the transcript: 

Q. A lot has been said about rookie coach Todd McLellan, but can you tell me a little bit about what Jay Woodcroft has meant to your team? JOE THORNTON: He’s been great. He actually takes care of all the video part and some of the on ice stuff. But he breaks down the good things, the bad things in our game right then, and he works one-on-one with us after and at practices and things like that. He’s been a great addition to the whole coaching staff. 

Q. Also, could you tell me about the additions of (Rob) Blake and (Dan) Boyle and what that’s allowed your offense to do knowing you’ve had those two back there on the defensive line?  JOE THORNTON: Yeah, they’ve been great. They obviously played big, big minutes. They play both power play and penalty kill. They’re two stud defensemen that definitely should be up for Norris consideration. They’ve been great. They give other confidence to the other defense on our team, and they’re good veteran guys that won Stanley Cups, so you know you can rely on guys like that, too.

Q. Obviously you want to make this (trip to Boston) last longer than the last one. The fact that that game was so short for you a few years ago when you were here shortly after the deal, did that kind of leave a bad taste in your mouth? Do you kind of want to play a complete game now? JOE THORNTON: Well, yeah. It’s hockey and you kind of expect the unexpected, but obviously you want to play the full 60 minutes. It ended up working out well because I think we won, I’m not sure what the score was but we won pretty big that night. It worked out good; I got to eat some popcorn in the room and everything. But yeah, the plan is to play a full game and to have a good game. 

Q. Why are the Sharks better this year? What’s going on with that team? Is it moving the puck better from the back end? JOE THORNTON: Well, I think with the new coach we just tweaked our system a little bit, plus we added some big players on the point, so I think when you add all that together, you’re going to have a pretty good season, I guess.

Q. I’m actually working on a story on Mike Grier and would like to know from your standpoint, how would you describe his importance to the team? JOE THORNTON: He’s a big part of our team. He brings a lot of leadership, a lot of character. He’s huge on the penalty kill. He blocks shots, does all the little things that don’t get maybe noticed on the stats sheet and things like that. But he’s a big part of this team. Yeah, he’s been through a lot of wars, so you definitely can lean on a guy like that, especially for the young guys that expect what’s to come down here in the last 30 games here plus the postseason.

Q. I covered the Sabres for a number of years, including the time when he was there, and I recall a lot of the players when he left saying how much he was missed in the locker room because he always seemed to have a knack to say the perfect thing at the perfect time. Have you been exposed to that, and do you have any examples by any chance? JOE THORNTON: Yeah, he’s just a real positive guy, and I think when something needs to be said, I think a guy like him definitely has it where he can stand up no problem and address the room, and he’s done that in the past. I have no examples, but he is good with talking in the room and calming guys down if it’s a situation that needs to be handled a little bit or fire the guys up. So he has a good pulse on the team. 

Q. Is his family’s background a popular topic in the dressing room? JOE THORNTON: Yeah.

Q. What comes up about that, and how do you think that ? How could you imagine that that family background has impacted his development as a hockey player, even though we’re talking about different sports? JOE THORNTON: No, I think just his dedication to sport, obviously his family all into football, one is in Houston, one is in Miami. No, it comes up a lot. We love talking about football because we usually have Sundays off, so he knows quite a bit about it. I think he reads your magazine front to back, as well. He’s well?groomed in the sports category area. 

No, I think for his father just to be part of the NFL, I think he just learned a lot of discipline from him and maybe just leadership qualities from his dad. Yeah, he’s just a tremendous teammate.

Q. Just kind of going back to the return to Boston, lots of time has passed, lots of water under the bridge. Are you still in touch with a lot of the players there? I can’t even imagine that there would be very many guys that remain from when you played there. JOE THORNTON: No, there’s not. Well, I still talk to PJ once in a while, but I think he came in the same year as me, and that’s about the only one that really started with me. Timmy Thomas was there a little bit and Patrice Bergeron was there, but that’s pretty much it on the player side. You talk to the trainers a little bit here and there and the equipment guys, but everything else has pretty much all changed there.

Q. So is it then easier to go back in a situation like that, because even though it’s the team where you started, there’s I guess the sense that it is another game, an important game because they’re the top team in the east? JOE THORNTON: Yeah, really that’s all it is to me. There’s not too many ex-teammates over there, and it’s just really an important game in the schedule. They’re the best in the east, and we’re the best in the west. So it’s an important game that way rather than I’m playing against friends, I think.

Q. And then just one final follow-up. There’s some of us that are imagining, like occasionally there’s upsets in the playoffs, but sometimes the top teams get through, and if the top teams do get through this year, there would be a San Jose/Boston Stanley Cup final, which I guess from your perspective would look good because it means you’re competing for the Stanley Cup. Do you allow your mind to wander, or is it too dangerous to do that because you’ve got to get there first? JOE THORNTON: You wander a little bit, but obviously we’ve still got a lot of hockey to work out here. If that were to be the case it would be great because both teams made it there, but I think both teams would agree we’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us.

Q. Just to go back to that Boston game three years ago, the fans gave you a pretty good ride. You did not hang around long to get booed more, but they gave you a pretty good ride. Do you expect the same thing this time?  JOE THORNTON: I don’t think you expect anything. I think you go in with no expectations. That’s how I’ll go into Tuesday’s game, just with no expectations again. 

Q. Do you have any regrets about what happened in Boston, or is that passed? JOE THORNTON: I have no regrets at all. That’s years and years ago. I had no regrets when I played there and when I left, no.

Q. How about the feeling of being traded at that time? What did it mean to you when you got traded at that time? JOE THORNTON: Well, I never in juniors had gotten traded, so that was my first dose of getting traded. It was a little weird, a little emotional to be leaving. But really, after I got traded, from that night on, it was tough, and then the morning came and I flew and I met my new teammates with the Sharks. I think after really that first 24 hours, I think it wasn’t hard, it was just back to business, I think. It wasn’t too tough after that.

Q. About this season, new coach, and McLellan obviously comes in with a winning pedigree from last year especially, but I guess you could expect that you guys would be a good team, but did you expect that it would be like this? JOE THORNTON: Well, you expect it to be good because I think with having Dan Boyle, I don’t think too many people outside of Tampa really knew how good he was. But I played with him in the world championships and things like that, so I expected him to make a big impact, and Rob Blake, because Rob, we play here in California all the time.

So I knew those two guys were going to make a big impact, but I just didn’t know how big. I think with those two guys coming here, our expectations were real high. But to have the start we are, I don’t think anybody expected that, no.

Q. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re still with Setoguchi and Marleau, correct?  JOE THORNTON: Yes.

Q. There seems to be a pretty good chemistry there, and all three of you guys were in Montreal for All-Star weekend there, as well, which must have been pretty special to have a whole line there. Where do you think it all stems from, that chemistry, if you can just break it down a little bit? JOE THORNTON: Well, I think you look at Paddy has tremendous speed and so does Seto. They both shoot the puck really, really well, they both see the ice well. I’m a big believer in good players make each other into great players. I think that’s the case with us.

We’re all good players, and when you put them together, we become better players. All three of us have good hockey sense, and I think when you throw three guys in a line that have good hockey sense, usually good things come out of it.

Q. McLellan keeps pushing the right buttons. What’s different with him in the room with him as the coach this year? Has much changed? JOE THORNTON: Not too much to be honest with you. I think just our daily approach is just a little bit different. We just really focus in on that day. I think in years past we kind of looked maybe too far ahead, and this year we’re just working out our kinks now, and we’re working hard each and every day and focusing on that day. I think that’s probably going to be the difference.

Q. Does the Stanley Cup from last year ever get brought up? Does he ever bring it up and say this is what works? JOE THORNTON: It does come up a little bit, and we saw his ring when we came to Detroit there and the Red Wings came to the rink. So we do talk about it a little bit, what championship teams do. So it’s nice having a coach that has been there and done that.

Q. You were talking about the Boston thing. Have you ever understood why or got an explanation why you were traded? JOE THORNTON: Really, I don’t really know. I know at the time I can remember the team wasn’t doing so well. But no, I really don’t know or I don’t think anybody knows other than a couple people why that happened. But yeah, I still don’t know.

Q. You said there’s not a lot of people associated with the team in terms of players that are still there. How about do you still have friends in the community that will be pretty cool to reunite with for at least one day?JOE THORNTON: Yeah, my brother still lives in Boston. He goes to school there at Boston University. It’s going to be nice to see him. Yeah, I’ve still got quite a few friends there over the years. I started when I was 18, so that’s a lot of good friends that I still have there. So it’ll be nice when we get a couple days off, which will be good to kind of go visit some people that I need to.

Q. And the last question would be this weekend, in different circumstances, but obviously Marian Hossa will go back to Pittsburgh this weekend and back to one of his old teams, albeit he didn’t play there that long, be he might get a little bit of a cool reception. Any advice for Marian when he goes in there, how to deal with it? JOE THORNTON: No, I just think you go in with no expectations, and that’s about it, really. You’ve just got to go play your game. That’s the bottom line.

Q. I’m calling from Swedish television, and I was just wondering, why is San Jose playing better than Detroit this season? JOE THORNTON: We’ve been real consistent since day one, and that’s probably the one thing is just our consistency. We try to play hard each and every night, and we’ve got lots of talent. I think when you work hard and you’re consistent, you’re going to get results. I think that’s the case this year.

Q. And Douglas Murray has a lot of fans here in Sweden. What can you say about him and his season so far?JOE THORNTON: He’s had a great season, actually. He’s just so big and strong, and he just controls the puck when he has it. But he’s been great for us all year long. He plays big minutes for us on the penalty kill and things like that. But he’s been a big, huge part of our success.

Q. When you’re looking back now in hindsight at getting traded and going to San Jose and everything, how beneficial was the trade from Boston to San Jose and going from one situation to the other for your career? JOE THORNTON: Well, I think it’s worked out well for me, obviously. But you know, I thought it was going good in Boston, as well, though. I don’t think there was anything wrong there to be honest with you. But I think just being a little bit older, I think I was young then and now I’m just maturing to be an adult now. So I think just maturity-wise you get to know the game a little bit better, you get more confidence, and you just know your body a little bit more.

I think it just really is two parts of a hockey player that I was.

Q. Did you use that trade as motivation or like you kind of maybe had to prove something to somebody after the fact? JOE THORNTON: No, not at all. You just play hockey, and that’s what I do. I’m a hockey player. But no motivation or anything like that. You just have to earn respect from your new teammates, and that’s about it. But there’s no new motivation. You have enough on yourself that you don’t need any more.

Q. How different for you personally is it going to be going back to Boston this time than last time? Maybe a lot less emotional than the last time you were there? JOE THORNTON: Yeah, I feel like I’ve been a Shark for a long time now. It’ll be a little bit funny, but I don’t think now, being through it once before, I don’t think it’s going to be a big challenge for me.

Q. And when you kind of look back on that one other time, that five minutes and 13 seconds that you were actually in the game, what sticks out in your mind just from that day going back? Is there anything that you really kind of think of when you think of that day? JOE THORNTON: Just how weird and awkward it was to be honest with you. It just felt really strange to be on a different side on the bench and skating a different way. Just a little bit awkward, I think.

Q. I just wonder if you could walk me through what a typical week for a pro hockey player is, the rhythms of the week with practice and games and whether there’s a particular day that you think you do better on or look forward to playing on or something like that? JOE THORNTON: Pretty much typical days are you play a Tuesday, a Thursday and a Saturday, and on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday you usually have practice at 11:00 o’clock. So you wake up 9:00-ish, quarter to 9:00-ish, go to the rink, grab some breakfast and away you go. And then after practice there might be a little light workout or things like that.

Then usually home, and then here in California you can sit out by the pool if you like and then play some Tiger Woods in the afternoon, and then dinner time and then maybe see a movie or watch a TV show on television, then just do it all over again the next day. I like Saturdays personally. I like Saturday night games. They seem to be fun.

Q. Why is that?  JOE THORNTON: I don’t know, just…well, we sell out every night here, so it’s really just that if you’re on the road, usually Saturday nights will be sold out on the road and there’s quite a good atmosphere in the building. Saturday nights, it’s Hockey Night in Canada, too, you to get to watch Don Cherry on TV.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Joe Thornton, P.J. Axelsson, San Jose Sharks
Ryder out indefinitely with facial fracture at 12:06 pm ET
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The injury bug has hit the Bruins again, and this time Michael Ryder is the victim after suffering a high-stick against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night. According to B’s coach Claude Julien, Ryder is out indefinitely with a facial fracture to the nose/eye area and team doctors haven’t ruled out surgery as a possibility to repair the damaged area.

The latest news is a pretty big reversal from the last few days when it was expected that Ryder had his nasty nose gash stitched up and he would be ready to go.

“Ryder is not going today; we got some bad news on his situation,” said Julien, who said Ryder will be evaluated again on Monday. “It’s a small fracture, so he’s out indefinitely. It needs to be determined whether he can play with a shield, or how far it needs to be looked into.

“It’s a shame,” added Julien. “When you say indefinitely you hope it’s shorter than longer. There’s a fresh fracture and you really can’t let him go now. There’s a possibility of (surgery).”

Julien indicated that Ryder’s eyesight is “okay” and has not been affected by the injury, but further testing will be required next week.

In other news for pregame against the Philadelphia Flyers in yet another Saturday matinee at the Garden: Milan Lucic will play with a bruised up and purple left foot after taking a shot off it on Wednesday night, but Aaron Ward will not be in the lineup after battling the flu over the last few days.

Manny Fernandez gets his first start between the pipes since the beginning of January when he took to the ice Jan. 8 against the Ottawa Senators.

Read More: Aaron Ward, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Manny Fernandez
Bruised left foot for Milan Lucic 02.06.09 at 2:20 pm ET
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Bruins left winger Milan Lucic was back at practice this afternoon and declared himself ready to play in tomorrow’s matinee against the Philadelphia Flyers. Looch suffered a bruised left foot when he took a shot off his big dog in last Wednesday night’s tilt versus the Flyers in Philly. According to the hulking forward, he’s got a colorful and healthy bruise and some “purple toes” after taking a shot off the left foot near the skate’s lacing.

Lucic was trying to get a tip on a shot in front of the net at the time of the injury, but he missed the puck with his trusty blade and instead caught the speeding rubber biscuit flush off the front of his left foot.

“It’s good news,” said Lucic, who missed Thursday night’s game against the Senators with the injury. “I think we treated it right (Thursday) and today, and it looks like I’m going to be ready to play tomorrow.

“It’s the game of hockey; stuff like that happens all the time and you just have to be mentally strong and battle through it,” added Lucic. “I’ve got some nice purple toes. It looks funny right now, but it made a lot of progress from yesterday morning to last night.”

In other tidbits from practice:

Dennis Wideman obviously isn’t a big listener to WEEI during the late morning and early afternoon hours, if at all. When I told him that he should tell Holley that he was a big fan of his “Holley Hockey Minute” when he gets on the air, Wideman replied without missing a beat: “Oh…you mean Holley isn’t a girl? That’s good to know.”

Aaron Ward was down with the flu that’s been traveling around the Bruins club — and the Celtics for that matter over the last week — and wasn’t at practice. Chuck Kobasew was also given a maintenance day away from the ice by coach Claude JulienMichael Ryder was also given the day off after a high stick caught him in the face and cut him open during last night’s shootout win against Ottawa.

Julien and Manny Fernandez also both revealed that physically he’s ready to jump back into game action, but it’s more a matter of getting a certain feel in net between the pipes after three weeks of inactivity.

“He’s feeling good and physically I think he’s 100 percent,” said Julien. “I think we made the right decision in doing what we did and letting him heal his aching back. That’s the main thing right now, so it’s just a matter now of spotting him in a situation when we feel that he feels he’s ready.”

It was a pretty good showing at practice this afternoon at the TD Banknorth Garden given that B’s Media Relations maestro Matt Chmura estimated that the team finally got into Boston around 2:30 a.m. Friday morning.

Read More: Aaron Ward, Boston Bruins, Chuck Kobasew, Claude Julien
Mike Milbury and Tim Connolly aren’t buds 02.05.09 at 2:15 pm ET
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I’ve always been a big fan of all the NESN hockey broadcasters. Gord Kluzak and Rick Middleton certainly have their charms and add to the broadcasts, but nobody can bust out a “little self-centered dink” throwaway line quite like Mike Milbury. The always-volcanic Milbury proved it again last night by taking it to a new level between the second and third period of the B’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Milbury and host Kathryn Tappen sat in the studio and calmly watched as sideline report Naoko Funayama went through their paces with Michael Ryder, and then came the verbal explosion around the NHL highlights package.

The rift obviously stems from Connolly’s two years with the New York Islanders when Milbury was running the organization, but Mad Mike basically slapped Buffalo Sabres center Tim Connolly with a “self-centered, little dink” during the Sabres portion of the footage. Not quite as primitively satisfying as watching Milbury beat a man with his own shoe, but it’s still good to know that the bluster is still simmering when it needs to be called upon.

Here’s the footage from last night with the fireworks beginning around the 1:30 mark (note: you’ll need to turn up the audio to hear the comments):

Read More: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Kathryn Tappen, Mike Milbury
Ted Donato can see the power of the ‘B’ 02.02.09 at 10:01 pm ET
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In honor of the first of two excellent Beanpot Mondays here at the TD Banknorth Garden, we thought we’d get a quick Bruins thought from Harvard head hockey coach Ted Donato, who scored 119 goals and 147 assists during portions of 9 seasons proudly wearing the Spoked B on his chest before retiring in 2003-04.

Harvard dropped a thrilling 4-3 game to Boston University in the early game Monday evening, but the Crimsom flashed the same kind of heart and work ethic that the overachieving 5-foot-10, 180-pound Donato brought to the ice with him on a nightly basis.

Donato clearly has his finger on the pulse of all things hockey in the Boston area, and says that he’s easily noticing the effect that the Bruins’ resurgence is having in hockey talk and puck participation among the youth levels all around New England. 

“People are talking about the Bruins around the offices and the water coolers, so to speak. And it’s exciting for them to be successful, but they’re just a fun team to watch,” said Donato, who had 6 goals and 5 assists in 2003-04 for the Black and Gold before retiring to take on coaching duties with the Crimson. “They score goals, they skate, they play physical. It’s really been a great transition and it’s something that — with the Internet, the replays and all of the computers out there — I think kids playing hockey in the area are really beginning to appreciate what the Bruins are doing.”

Quoting Donato also gives me a good excuse to drop a little NHL ’94 greatness into the Pucks with Haggs galaxy, as this is the only thing that pops on youtube when you enter Ted Donato into the search field. Makes me pine for the days when I used to skate the unmatchable Theo Fleury and his Calgary Flames for my dominant runs to the Cyber Cup. Enjoy:

Read More: Boston Bruins, Harvard University, Ted Donato,
Shawn Thornton puts imprint on final win in Montreal 02.01.09 at 6:45 pm ET
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MONTREAL — The life of an NHL enforcer certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, and it’s definitely not a destination spot for those seeking to bathe in glory or blanket themselves in warm, comforting plaudits.

Underrated Shawn Thornton, one of the biggest yet least talked about pieces of this flashy, rugged, dominant Bruins hockey machine, came up one assist short of the Gordie Howe hat trick on Sunday afternoon.

But he still made an unmistakable imprint on the B’s 3-1 win over the sagging Canadiens at the Bell Centre, and showed once again why his personality on and off the ice are such a big part of the Big Bad Bruins resurgence in Boston.

Thornton bagged the game-winner, dropped the gloves for some fisticuffs after getting the invite to dance from AHL journeyman Alex Henry and unloaded a game-high four shots against Habs goaltender Carey Price during yet another playoff-style victory.

Not bad for a night’s work from a hard-nosed guy that’s been bringing it every night — and setting the ultimate example – all season long for the Spoked B.

“He’s been a big part of (the team) for us this year,” said Dennis Wideman, who essentially ripped the Habs’ heart out when he notched a game-tying marker with just 0.6 seconds left in the first period. “He’s obviously a very good fighter. I think the best part about him is he knows when to fight. He knows the right time to do it.

“He’s been around a long time and he knows how a fight can really swing the momentum in a game,” added Wideman. “He’s invaluable to us and he’s scored some really big goals for us this year too. It’s huge for us when you put the so-called fourth line out there and they just have an offensive shift in the other team’s zone the whole time.”

As is always the case with a lionhearted and modestly-skilled pugilist like Thornton, however, he’s nowhere to be found when the mighty Montreal media doles out their Three Stars for the game as they did Sunday afternoon. Thornton’s fingerprints were smeared all over the B’s winning blueprint, but instead Tim Thomas (a solid 27 save game) and Wideman garnered Boston’s two stars.

Once again, no glorified back slaps for Thornton.

Instead he’s off somewhere dipping his right punching hand into ice and jacking down from skating before a raucous Bell Centre crowd of 21, 273 — many of whom didn’t stick around much after Marc Savard picked Andrei Kostitsyn’spocket and snared the empty net insurance marker with 57 seconds remaining in the game.

Thornton’s game-winner snapped a 1-1 tie 8:02 into the second period during a typically relentless blue collar shift skating along with big Byron Bitz and crafty Stephane Yelle. Bitz, playing strong and stout along the wall and the boards, held on to the puck behind the Canadiens net and found Thornton buzzing around at Price’s doorstep.

“Bitzy is just a big moose,” said Thornton of his linemate after the game. “He makes a lot of smart plays with the puck, and it’s just been a treat since he’s been here.”

The B’s coaching staff has also been rightly impressed with the work done by the 6-foot-5 Cornell graduate, who might have a bright future in the stock market or a law firm someday but is currently serving a valuable role as a big-bodied grinder on a hard-working Bruins team.

“He’s that type of player I guess with size and strength and everything else; he just seems to fit the billing for that line right now,” said Julien. “There’s probably more guys in Providence that have higher skill level, but they wouldn’t be the right fit. He’s just fit right in. I don’t see a guy that’s been intimidated at all by the speed (of the NHL).

“(Bitz) just plays his game with everybody he’s up against. He finishes his checks and he wins his battles. He’s been pretty impressive,” added Julien. “He’s been one of our better guys along the walls. If somebody is pinching then he’s eating that puck and he isn’t throwing the puck around. Very, very seldom do you see him turn the puck over.”

After collecting Bitz’s nifty pass, Thornton unloaded a forehand bid with as much force as possible through a sea of bodies and goaltending equipment. Somehow, some way the puck found a path through Price’s pads for his fifth goal of the season. The play confirmed two things: Bitz seems to be finding a role for himself on this hockey club and Thornton keeps building brick-by-brick on what’s turning into his best season in the NHL.

“I’ve been talking about (Thornton) for a while now and even that line: Yelle, Bitz and Thornton,” said B’s coach Claude Julien. “I think it’s only fitting that Thorny gets the game-winner — and that line — because of the way that they’ve been playing. I played them right to the end. There was no reason to pull them back because they were doing such a great job. In their own end, getting pucks out, and doing such a great job of keeping it in (Montreal’s) end when they got their puck down there.”

In the fighting arena, Thornton got things out of the way earlier with the knowledge that an AHL call-up named Alex Henry, who he had dropped the gloves with years ago in the minors, was seeking out a hockey scrap. Thornton obliged just 1:06 into the game and gave up both size and reach to a taller, bigger opponent in Henry. Both got their shots in during a back-and-forth brawl that lasted well over a minute, and then both retired to the penalty box for five minutes of rest and relaxation. 

It’s the only way of life for Thornton in the fighting game, and it’s another undervalued facet of a quietly effective hockey skill set.

“He asked (for the fight),” said Thornton of the scrap. “He’s a tough kid and he wants to create a spot for himself on their team. So good for him. I knew it was going to be somebody, so I figured I’d take care of it all at once.”

Even the candy cane-style “barber pole” pajamas worn by the Canadiens — a tribute to the red, white and blue sweater donned by the 1912-13 edition of the Habs during their 100th Anniversary season — couldn’t throw Thornton off track for the win. Though he did wonder if he was having some kind of frozen sheet mirage during the pregame skate.

“It wasn’t as bad during the game when there were only five guys out on the ice, but when I looked down during warmups and there were 23 guys skating around … I was dizzy,” said Thornton. “It wasn’t as bad when the numbers went down, but I was really concerned about it during warmups. I didn’t know if I hadn’t had enough sleep or what.”

After Thornton’s day at the office, it might be the Canadiens who have a little trouble sleeping tonight after yet another loss to the Black and Gold Sunday afternoon.

“Put Him in Prison Stripes”

Here’s a little bit of youtube goodness featuring the fight between Thornton and Henry along with a great diatribe tying together Henry’s place in the hockey world along with the “Keystone Kops and Robbers” sweaters donned by the Habs. I call the fight a draw, but give a clear victory to Jack Edwards in the verbal lambasting.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Byron Bitz, Claude Julien, Dennis Wideman
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