Bruins forward Shawn Thornton
is scheduled be in the lineup for the second straight game when the puck drops to start Wednesday's Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
In 14 games during this postseason, Thornton only has 1 point -- an assist in the series-clinching Game 4 win against the Philadelphia Flyers
in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Scoring however, is not the reason why Thornton is in the lineup.
Thornton's mere presence on the ice has the chance to affect the game's makeup as a result of his physical play, attitude and energy.
In Game 3, Thornton's first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final and first time in the lineup since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the rugged forward was a source of energy for the Bruins. He had a hit on his first shift, getting in hard on the forecheck and causing a potential turnover. He finished the game with two hits in just 5:50 of ice time. Throughout the regular season, Thornton was second among Bruins' forwards in hits, with 141. Only Milan Lucic
, with 167, had more.
For the game, in less than six minutes of ice time, Thornton was a plus-2, earning both pluses on second-period goals as Boston took a 4-0 lead in an eventual 8-1 victory. Thornton also drew the hooking penalty on Jeff Tambellini
that led to a Mark Recchi
power-play goal in the second.
The score remained 4-0 until shortly after Thornton received a 10-minute misconduct, in addition to a two-minute roughing penalty, just shy of eight minutes into the third period. Sparked by Thornton and the hometown Boston crowd, the Bruins clicked for four more goals before the final horn sounded.
"Shawn's not just some meathead running around -- he's a really good player. He's a very valuable player. That fourth line has been dynamic and so solid for us. It is not just about throwing in some tough guy to run around and stir it up. He's a very effective player and he has a lot of respect on this team" -- Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference
, like Thornton, became involved in the physical third period. Ference earned two separate 10-minute misconducts and knows what a player like Thornton, who can do more than just agitate opponents, means to a team.
"Shawn's not just some meathead running around -- he's a really good player," Ference said. "He's a very valuable player. That fourth line has been dynamic and so solid for us. It is not just about throwing in some tough guy to run around and stir it up. He's a very effective player and he has a lot of respect on this team."
Bruins forward Chris Kelly
also speaks highly of what Thornton's presence in the lineup means to his team. Playing for Anaheim in 2007, Thornton won the Stanley Cup.
"He's a vocal guy on the bench and he's so into the game," Kelly said. "He's excited, and he knows what it is like to play in the Cup Final and to win."
Thornton knows that there is still plenty of work to be done in this series, and it continues with Wednesday's Game 4.
"We're focused on Game 4 now. All this other stuff we've turned the page on it," Thornton said. "Now we have to have at least the same effort if not better for Game 4. We know they're going to be better. It's going to take everything in us. We' like to go (to Vancouver) 2 -2 instead of 3-1, that's for sure."