|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘You never really expect to sweep a [Penguins] team with that much firepower’||06.10.13 at 10:13 am ET|
The Bruins open the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday in Chicago against the Blackhawks, who led the league with 77 points in the abbreviated regular season.
Thornton spent five years in the Chicago organization and made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks in the 2002-03 season, so he has some familiarity with a few of the current Blackhawks.
“I think their back end is as mobile as anybody’s in the NHL,” Thornton said. “I think that they’re a puck-possession team. If you give them their opportunities, if you turn that puck over they get going the other way in a hurry. They have some really, really crafty forwards up front also with [Patrick] Kane and [Jonathan] Toews and [Marian] Hossa. You definitely have to be careful.
“They’re similar in that way with the Penguins. But it’s kind of tough to compare them; we haven’t played against them this year. I only know from playing with those guys years back. I don’t really watch a whole lot of hockey.”
The Bruins are coming off a surprising four-game sweep of the top-seeded Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals. The B’s shut down Pittsburgh’s heralded offensive stars and limited the Penguins to two goals in four games.
“I honestly did not think we’d be able to shut those guys down for a whole series. Sweep was a little surprising, too,” Thornton said. “I liked the feeling in our room after we were up 2-0. I liked the feeling in our room after we were up 3-0 and going into Game 4. But you never really expect to sweep a team with that much firepower.”
Added Thornton: “Our D did an unbelievable job. The forwards helped out, but you’ve got to give the D and Tuukka [Rask] a lot of credit. And our penalty-killers. A lot of blocked shots. A lot of being in the right position. A lot of layers. A lot of hard work defensively. Definitely not easy. They had their chances, too. They hit a few posts and stuff like that. But I think for the most part we did as good a job as can be done against those guys.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: Gregory Campbell ‘a special kind of person’||06.06.13 at 10:08 am ET|
Following Wednesday’s 2-1 overtime victory over the Penguins, Bruins forward Shawn Thornton checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to offer his thoughts on the instant classic that ended with Patrice Bergeron‘s goal in double overtime.
“I wasn’t too involved,” Thornton joked, as he saw minimal action and was confined to the bench after linemate Gregory Campbell was injured in the second period. “On the edge of my seat the whole time. It was exciting.
“You can’t say enough about Bergy, the way he plays on both sides of the puck. For him to get that goal for us is huge. He’s been great for us this whole playoffs. It was very deserving that he was the one that potted it.
“It was back and forth; it could have went either way. We ended up pulling it out, and that’s all that matters.”
Thornton played just four minutes in the game, in part because of Campbell’s injury and also because of a flurry of penalties the Bruins had.
“Not for lack of playing well, I was told afterwards,” he said. “We kind of went down to like three lines. ‘¦ When we have everyone healthy its easy to roll four lines. But when not, it’s a little bit tougher.”
Campbell’s toughness in taking a slap shot off his leg — reportedly breaking a bone — but getting back up and doing all he could to help the B’s penalty kill provided a spark to the team.
“Myself, a couple of guys, we talked about it in between [periods]. Somebody lays down and puts himself on the line like that, let’s not let it be all for naught, I guess,” Thornton said. “That’s huge. It’s not easy to block shots. People from the outside look in, maybe think that, oh, that’s what you’re supposed to do. But there’s that split-second before you see that guy tee it up and you know it’s going to hurt like hell and you still have to lay down in front of it. Not everyone has that in him. That was huge of him. Who knows if that would have been the shot that was the difference for that game.
“We’re very happy to have him on our team. I’ve been blessed to play with him for three years. He does stuff like that all the time. He throws himself out there and puts his body on the line, whether it’s fighting somebody or laying down in front of shots or finishing his checks. He’s a warrior for us.”
Added Thornton: “How about the courage on him to stand up and play on that leg. He wasn’t going to let anything — I think he tried to block another one. That takes a special kind of person. ‘¦ It might look simple, but that’s not an easy thing to do. I’ve been there. Every hockey player at some point has flamingoed it at one point or another. It’s not easy to do that.”
The Bruins look to wrap up the series on Friday night.
“Closing out a series is always the toughest game, to get this fourth game. Their backs are against the wall,” Thornton said, adding: “They are going to give us their best, and we’re going to have to be a lot better than we were last night. Because I think that they were probably the better team for the majority of the game, to be honest.”
|A fired-up and not-so ‘normal’ Tuukka Rask leads Bruins into Game 3||06.05.13 at 1:49 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask was on a razor’s edge Wednesday morning before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The mild-mannered “normal” goalie who can turn on a dime if he doesn’t play well or someone ticks him off on the ice, reached that boiling point Wednesday.
First came an innocent enough flick of a rebound into the net when Rask wasn’t ready from a teammate near the corner boards. Rask was focusing on 2-on-1 drills and had the puck stopped but the teammate just figured he’d fire it into the empty net.
As the video below shows, Rask angrily turned around reached into the net and faked firing it back but thought better of it.
But that was nothing compared to what happened about 15 minutes later. Shawn Thornton came in and snapped a shot that appeared to catch Rask in the right collarbone area. He fell to the ice in obvious pain and then yelled. He skated past Thornton who appeared to want to see if he was OK.
Rask stormed to the bench area and slammed his stick against the boards in front of the Bruins bench. He rested and recovered for less than a minute before returning to drills.
Coach Claude Julien‘s reaction?
“He’s fine,” Julien said. “Just didn’t want him falling in front of that door when he went out of his crease. I told him, ‘You’re making me look bad.’ I said, ‘I told everybody you were normal.’ But I said, ‘I did tell them you had a temper.’ So I said, ‘You’re okay.’ No issues.”
Whatever has motivated Rask so far in the series has certainly worked. He has stopped 55-of-56 shots and has allowed only a Brandon Sutter perfectly placed wrist shot to beat him in the first period of Game 2. Rask is 10-4 in these playoffs so far with a 1.99 goals against and a .935 save percentage.
|Shawn Thornton on Games 1 and 2: ‘I’m a little surprised at the outcome’||06.04.13 at 7:26 pm ET|
BEDFORD — Truth be told, no one, not even Bruins players and coaches could have imagined a 9-1 margin of victory in the first two games against the Penguins.
“I’m a little surprised at the outcome,” Shawn Thornton admitted on Tuesday morning at Hanscom Air Field as the Bruins returned home from Pittsburgh. “I thought the scores would be a little bit closer the last couple of games, but we’ll take it. It’s behind us now though. Now we start focusing on [Wednesday’s] game.”
Thornton made it clear – just like he does on the ice – that the Bruins aren’t about to assume that Games 3 and 4 will be just as easy because Boston is on home ice.
“Definitely not,” Thornton said. “These next games will be a lot tougher, I’m sure. I think these guys are a very dangerous team. We’ve seen them score a lot of goals, so we’re a long ways from where we need to be.”
The Bruins have outworked, outmuscled and badly outplayed the Penguins in the first two games because of their work ethic.
“Work ethic obviously helps,” Thornton said. “We can’t take any nights off, that’s for sure. Not this time of year. So that will definitely contribute to success. But they’re going to be a lot better, so we’re going to have to look at some things. We’re going have to do better in some areas, too.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘It’s tough this time of year to retaliate’ against Matt Cooke||06.03.13 at 10:44 am ET|
With usual suspect Matt Cooke not being suspended for his Saturday night hit against Adam McQuaid, there is an expectation that the Bruins will try to retaliate against Cooke. However, Thornton downplayed that possibility.
‘It’s tough this time of year to retaliate,’ Thornton said. ‘You don’t want to be the reason that you lose a game in the playoffs. Everything is just worth so much more this time of year, especially how far along we are in the playoffs. It gets more important to keep your composure.
‘This hit was a little bit different [than the one on Marc Savard], obviously, and if need be I’m pretty sure Adam McQuaid can take care of himself. He is a pretty big, tough guy.’
Mark Madden, a sports talk radio host at 105.9 The X in Pittsburgh, said the Bruins did not immediately retaliate when Cooke checked Savard in the head on March 7, 2010, is because Savard was disliked in the Bruins locker room. Thornton denied that claim.
‘Matt Cooke got kicked out of that game with Savvy years ago [actually, Cooke was not penalized at all]. The people that were on the ice with Savvy — a couple of them didn’t see what happened and I think a couple of them couldn’t get there in time. It was like Michael Ryder, who I don’t think ever had a fight in the NHL. Then there was three minutes left in the game, if I’m not mistaken [actually 5:37], so you can’t go out there and jump anyone either because it’s a $10,000 fine for you and a $10,000 fine for the coach and a $20,000 fine for the team — I don’t know what the exact numbers are but there are a lot of rules in place that stop you from gooning it up at the end of the games. They’re just trying to clean up the game.
“So, it wasn’t because Savvy was disliked. It was just at what time it went and who with that incident.’
One player who did fight Saturday night was Patrice Bergeron, who dropped the gloves with Evgeni Malkin after the second period. Bergeron lost the fight and got a bloody face, but Thornton said he did not have much of a chance to win it once Malkin pulled his jersey over his head.
‘His jersey came over his head really quickly and there is nothing you can do when that happens,’ Thornton said. ‘You can’t see anything, kind of the old-school way, I guess. He did a good job getting in there. He didn’t back down. I know Malkin is not known as a tough guy, but he still is about five inches taller than him. Any time anyone gets in there, it’s not an easy job to do, so I definitely congratulated him.’
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: Penguins front lines ‘a force to be reckoned with’||05.28.13 at 10:21 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning and previewed the B’s Eastern Conference finals series against the Penguins, talked up “underhyped” goalie Tuukka Rask and revealed that he received a congratulatory text message from former teammate Tim Thomas after Game 3 vs. the Rangers.
The Bruins return to practice Tuesday following two days off since dispatching the Rangers in Game 5 on Saturday night, preparing for what is expected to be a much tougher test from the top-seeded Penguins.
“They’re a pretty deep group up front, that’s for sure,” Thornton said. “They’ve got guys like Brenden Morrow on their fourth line. That’s some pretty good players back there. So, yeah, they’re a force to be reckoned with up front.”
Added Thornton: “I know there’s a lot of hype with the guys we’re playing against, and rightfully so, they’re great players. It’s always kind of the Sidney Crosby show wherever he goes. He’s the face of the league and he’s probably the best player in the game. You can’t get caught looking at that. We have to worry about what’s going on in our locker room, like we did last series with the Rangers and the series before with Toronto. You can’t really worry about what’s going on outside. We’ve got to play our game if we want to be successful. ‘¦ You get caught just trying to react to what they’re doing, you’ll get caught with your pants down. They’re a dangerous team.”
Asked if Crosby is the best player he’s played against, Thornton said: “Yeah, I’d say, all-around. There’s not much he doesn’t do well. He competes hard. Not only how skilled he is, his compete level is right up there. He never seems to take a night off. I think that’s part of the reason why he’s so good. ”
Thornton said there are no hard feelings toward Jarome Iginla after the veteran forward chose Pittsburgh over Boston at the trade deadline.
“No, I don’t care,” Thornton said. “He made a decision based on his personal opinion. He has a no-trade, he’s entitled to that. He earned it. He played a lot of great years in Calgary for that right. As a player, you can’t really fault him for it.”
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|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Tyler Seguin ‘about to break through’||05.22.13 at 12:07 pm ET|
NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday, following the Bruins’ 2-1 victory over the Rangers in Tuesday night’s Game 3.
The Bruins controlled the first couple of minutes of the game, despite the Rangers’ desperate situation, sending an early message.
“If you’re going to start a game on home ice, you’re down 2-0, you know you’re never in trouble in a playoff series until you lose on home ice, you want to set the tone early,” McGuire said. “So, you want to go after it, you start your heavy hitters, you start Brian Boyle, you start Derek Dorsett, you start Taylor Pyatt. You start your bangers, I call them the stampeding elephants, and you’re expecting them to stampede. Well, they didn’t. In fact, Boston took the game to them. That really set the whole tempo for the game, I thought.”
McGuire said the Bruins have the upper hand because they have the Rangers questioning themselves.
“There’s three things you want to accomplish in a playoff series: concern, doubt and fear, if you’re the opponent,” McGuire said. “Right now the Rangers are clearly concerned, they clearly have doubt, and I thought last night in the third period in particular after [Daniel] Paille scored the second goal, they had fear. If you can accomplish those three characteristics in a playoff series, your chances of winning are really good. I think the Bruins have put themselves in that position right now.”
“Shawn is an emotional leader and he’s not going to burn you defensively,” McGuire said. “And he’s a tough guy. When they started challenging Marchand last night with Dorsett, you saw what happened on the offside faceoff: Marchand comes off, Thornton comes on, Dorsett gets stabilized, no more issues.”
That said, McGuire insisted Dorsett’s failure to respond physically doesn’t reflect badly on the Rangers winger.
“I don’t think he backed down,” McGuire said. “I just think at that point their team’s kind of lost some momentum. Thornton’s not going to fight him, but he’s going to tell him in his ear, whisper sweet nothings: Listen, dude, do you want to mess around? We will dance, and it won’t be fun for you. That’s all Shawn had to do.”