|Thornton prefers playing: ‘Watching hockey sucks’||05.03.10 at 1:24 pm ET|
Shawn Thornton is not the type to sit and watch his team mates go up and down the ice in an intense playoff game. Yet, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers, Thornton found himself a healthy scratch watching from media Level 9 of TD Garden, his heart trying to escape his chest every scoring chance the Bruins had on Philadelphia goaltender Brian Boucher.
“I want to be in every series. It is the best time of year, what you work for all summer and all winter long to get to this point. Watching hockey sucks. I would rather be playing,” Thornton said after the morning skate on Monday before Game 2. “I watched the second and third. The first I was working out. I can’t stand it. I almost had a heart attack. It is way harder to watch than it is to play. When you are involved you are in the flow but when you are up top or in the back room watching the game, every chance your heart jumps out of your chest, so it is tough but it is exciting as well. As I said before, I would rather be playing and that is one of the reasons because it sucks to have to sit there.”
Thornton will likely be in the lineup for Game 2, but not under the circumstances that anybody would find ideal. With Marco Sturm going down for the rest of the season (and the beginning of next) with two torn ligaments in his right knee, Thornton will resume his spot on the checking line and get down to business against the bruising Flyers attack. Thornton is a good Bruins citizen. He is always accountable, always present and always wants to play. There are more talented skaters among the Bruins forwards but he brings a lot of heart to the dressing room and the rink. He cannot see himself in the lineup as any type of reward because another one of the standout clubhouse guys has to face surgery and months of rehabilitation.
“I wouldn’t use the word rewarded. A good friend, good team mate is down. It is tough. I don’t like how it happened with the injury but I am going to get in the lineup and try to play as well as I can,” Thornton said.
A lot of people scratched their heads when Thornton was the man to sit as opposed to a player like Blake Wheeler, who has been ineffective around the goal and prone to turnovers through the end of the season and the playoffs. The thought was that, since the Flyers are so physical and aggressive, that Boston would need a player of Thornton’s talents to help counterbalance Philadelphia’s style. Former Bruins player and coach and current NESN and NBC hockey analyst Mike Milbury said on the Dale and Holley show recently that sitting Thornton would be a crime.
“I would shed a real tear if I were a Bruins fan, if that happens,” Milbury said. “I don’t think his presence in the lineup is given enough importance by the people in management, frankly. I’ve seen him sort of get jerked around this year and I thought it was a mistake. If he doesn’t play tomorrow I think it is a mistake, and if he doesn’t play every game the rest of the way I think it’s a crime.”
Crime averted though it took a catastrophe to happen.
Unlike Milbury, Thornton is not suited to the media level. He joked around with reporters that they had it easy on Level 9 but ultimately, it is just not his style.
“The game is so much easier on the ninth level. That is why you guys [the media] make so much money, huh? I kind of prepare the same way I would for any other game. It is easier up there, you can see things happen before they happen. It is a lot quicker on ice level so I just come out and do what I do,” Thornton said.
|Bruins know what to expect from the Flyers||04.30.10 at 2:32 pm ET|
The Bruins are in for a physical series. It’s just the nature of Philadelphia sports — if you play there, you have to bring an edge. This group of Flyers is no exception, with bruising bodies including Chris Pronger and Braydon Coburn on the blue line and pesky, instigator forwards Daniel Carcillo and Scott Hartnell up front. Carcillo put up an impressive 207 penalty minutes during the regular season and then another 18 in five games against the Devils in the quarterfinals. A big part of the how the series swings will be how Boston manages the physical game and how well the B’s keep their tempers when the Flyers inevitably get under their its skin.
An interesting situation pops up with the Bruins as the return of Marc Savard from concussion causes a player to get bumped from the lineup. Indications from the last three days of practice are that nominal enforcer Shawn Thornton will sit, as Blake Wheeler may take his spot on the checking line. Coach Claude Julien warned not to assume that a decision had been made, but often this season what we have seen in practice is what we see come game time. Either way, Julien does not seem to see the loss of Thornton on the ice as a major concern.
“We are, I guess I would consider us ‘team tough.’ I don’t see any issues any way we go, and if there is, they will be addressed. It is as simple as that,” Julien said.
Thornton does not see himself as only a tough guy, to his credit because he does do other things well on the checking line. At the same time, he is always willing to ring the bell when his particular services are called upon.
“To tell the truth, I think I can play the game besides for that and be a factor in anything, not just the tough man. If that stuff happens, I am more than willing to take care of it. I think it is more that I play with a chip on my shoulder and don’t back down and showing through the last few that I don’t just want to play against the tough team but that I try to contribute in every game,” Thornton said.
Boston did well against the Sabres when it came to keeping net-crashers out of the way of Tuukka Rask, and the team is going to have to keep cutting the timber again to make sure that the goaltender can see where would-be goal-scorers are coming from.
“The less time you spend in the D-zone is for the best, but they are going to get their cracks and you just have to stay composed and stay where you are supposed to stay and just work in front of Tuukka, because if you let him see the puck he is going to stop the majority of things,” Wheeler said.
Rask, as per his normal demeanor, did not seem too concerned about the Flyers’ style of play. The Bruins have seen it before and they know what to expect.
“We know them and we played against them and their style. They like to get pucks in and crash the net. That is what a lot of teams do, but they have big forwards and really that is their style of play to get in front of the net and get pucks in,” Rask said. “I mean, guys block shots and get me a lane to see shots, and in the last series we did a great job with that. As a goalie it really helps when you can see the shooter and maybe one more thing and when you see the puck it becomes much easier.”
The Bruins also need to be aware that the Flyers have a history of the quick strike while on the penalty kill. They had just six short-handed strikes (same as the Bruins) in the 2009-10 regular season but led the league with 16 in 2008-09 and were near the top with 13 in 2007-08. Granted, without Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne for the series because of toe injuries (Gagne may return if the series goes the distance but Carter definitely is out), the Flyers’ short-handed capabilities are hindered, but that does not mean the Bruins should take the possibility lightly.
“Definitely, you have to be smart with the puck, even on the power play. You can’t make lazy passes, and if you find yourself turning the puck over it is going to be going the other way pretty quick,” Wheeler said. “Eliminate turnovers is probably first and foremost. I think they live on turning the puck over and going the other way, and if we eliminate those things I think we will give ourselves a great chance.”
|Second period summary: Bruins vs. Lightning||03.25.10 at 8:42 pm ET|
The Steven Stamkos show continued late in the second period as his power play blast beat Tuukka Rask for his 45th goal of the season. Not only did the goal with 25.8 seconds left in the period put Tampa Bay up, 4-2 after two periods, it tied the unsung star with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead.
Johnny Boychuk and Zdeno Chara are having similar nights. The two defensemen have been downright offensive.
Chara had a couple of bad giveaways in his own zone in the first period but scored Boston’s first goal with an aggressive pinch up the slot with 26.8 seconds left.
Then, in the second period, Boychuk lost control of the puck behind Tuukka Rask. It was stolen by Paul Szczechura, who put it past the unsuspecting Bruins netminder for a 3-1 Tampa lead.
But Boychuk, like Chara, redeemed himself with a nifty shot from the low right point. Boychuk used the screen in front of Antero Niittymaki beautifully and when the puck went through the five-hole, the Bruins had closed the gap again to one at the 10:22 mark.
In the opening two minutes, there was an ironic moment as Shawn Thornton took out Kurtis Foster on the corner boards to the right of Niittymaki. The check close to the head of Foster could be the first instance of discipline from the new NHL ‘Blindshot Headshot’ rule enacted earlier in the day.
It was exactly one week ago when Thornton exacted his revenge on Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke for a hit on Feb. 7 on Marc Savard that left the Bruins center out indefinitely with a concussion.
Bruins are more-than-doubling up Tampa Bay on the shot clock, 31-15, after 40 minutes.
|First period summary: Bruins-Thrashers||03.23.10 at 7:41 pm ET|
Tuesday’s contest basically amounts to a playoff game between the Bruins and the Thrashers in Atlanta. The Thrashers start the night one point behind the Bruins for the final playoff and an outright win would see them jump Boston in the standings.
Boston is doing its best to make sure that does not happen.
After a slow start Boston broke for the first goal when a Bruins shot got caught in traffic through the crease in front of Thrashers’ goaltender Johan Hedberg. Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder started banging around on the puck causing it to bounce to the far side of the crease where David Krejci snuck in from behind the goal line to pound it home for the goal advantage at 9:25.
After that the Bruins started gaining more opportunities and taking the momentum away from the Thrashers in their home at Phillips Arena. To try and stop that momentum the Thrashers forward Eric Boulton signaled Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton for a fight at 11:00. Boulton got his arm caught in his sleeve to start the fight and Thornton got a couple of shots in before the pair skated at center ice in a draw before Thornton tugged Boulton’s sweater over his head to end it.
Overall the compete level for each team is relatively high, as it should be at this juncture in the season but Boston leads 1-0 heading into the second.
Shots through first:
Boston – 10
Atlanta – 7
|Shawn Thornton press conference, 3/18||03.18.10 at 10:12 pm ET|
Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton spoke to the media following the Bruins’ 3-0 loss to the Penguins. Thornton wasted no time seeking revenge vs. Penguins forward Matt Cooke at the start of the game.
|Bruins blanked by Penguins||at 8:33 pm ET|
Summary – In one of the most anticipated games of the season, the Bruins got their revenge but ended up losing the contest as the Penguins beat Boston 3-0 at TD Garden on Thursday. Tuukka Rask started and took the loss for the Bruins with 28 saves while Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 33rd win of the year by stopping 17 pucks.
Boston got the dramatic bits out of the way early when Shawn Thornton threw down the gloves against Matt Cooke on Cooke’s first shift of the game at 1:58 in the first period. The retribution by Thornton was the Bruins initial response for Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard on March 7 that left the center with a Grade 2 concussion. Savard will miss the rest of the year.
After that, it was time to play hockey.
Tyler Kennedy got the Penguins on the board first when he took the puck on the rush down the right wing and beat Rask high for the early goal advantage. It was Kennedy’s 10th goal of the year with the helpers coming from Ruslan Fedotenko and Brooks Orpik at 8:34.
Boston took three penalties in the second period and were able to kill them all but the momentum shifted in the direction of the Penguins who outshot the Bruins 15-5 in the frame. Pittsburgh broke through with an even-strength goal by Alexei Ponikarovsky with 14.1 seconds left to take a two-goal advantage into the third period.
Pittsburgh made it 3-0 when Michael Rupp beat Rask far side at 5:14 in the third to put the Bruins away for good.
Marc-Andre Fleury — The Penguins goaltender did not need to stop many pucks against the Bruins, but he ended up stopping enough to his his 33rd victory of the year.
Alexei Ponikarovsky — Pittsburgh acquired the scoring forward at the trade deadline and he scored the separation goal for the Penguins with his 21st in the second period.
Michael Rupp — The center got in a fight with Zdeno Chara and scored the Penguins third goal of the game in the third period to seal the Bruins fate.
Turning Point — The ways things go for the Bruins offense, the first goal that Rask allowed was the one that broke their back. The emotion of Thornton’s fight against Cooke had worn off and when regular hockey activities commenced Boston found itself outmatched. Kennedy got the strike with a rush down the right wing that was fed by Fedotenko. Rask could not follow the quick shot that Kennedy let go and the Penguins had the lead and never looked back.
Key Play — It may not have been the key play to the game, but Thornton tracking down Cooke for the retribution fight on Cooke’s first shift of the game was essential for Boston’s reputation with its fans and within the NHL. Cooke jumped the boards for his shift at 1:56 in the first period and Thornton had his glove off and ready for the fisticuffs by 1:58, showing that he was going to waste no time in getting the matter over with. Cooke got the first few punches in on Thornton but the Bruins enforcer scored the next couple of hits and pulled Cooke’s sweater over his head that brought the forward to his knees. Thornton took the fighting major as well as a 10-minute misconduct.
|Thornton vs. Cooke photo gallery||at 7:41 pm ET|
The much-anticipated Bruins-Penguins game has begun, and it didn’t take long for a fight to break out. Matt Cooke and Shawn Thornton squared off just 1:58 into the first period. Check out the photo gallery to see it all unfold.
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