He has been as reliable as they come for two seasons in black and gold, so it should come as no surprise that winger Shawn Thornton holds no ill will despite his being a healthy scratch for the first time this season for Game 4 of the Boston Bruins’ Eastern Conference semifinal series with Carolina Friday night in Raleigh.

While Thornton sat, rookie Byron Bitz got in the lineup for the first time in the series. The Bruins still fell to go down 3-1 in the series.

“Bitzy’s a great hockey player and they put him in to create some energy and I thought he played really well. So good for him,” said Thornton after practice today in Wilmington, Mass.

“Whatever it takes. Unfortunately, it didn’t end up with the ‘W.’ But it’s not about me this time of year, it’s about the team,” the rugged forward continued. “Whatever the decision is, everything the coaching staff does is for the team. And I just want to be a part of that. So whatever decision is made, I support it fully.”

Thornton maintained his team-first attitude while in the press box Friday, despite the frustration over not being able to help out his teammates and his admitted distaste for watching hockey. What he observed while in a suit might come in handy whether he’s back in uniform for Game 5 or not.

“There’s a few things (I saw). The game’s obviously a lot easier from up top. Things happen so much slower, you can see things develop. So there were a few things that I probably wouldn’t have been able to see if I was on the ice, especially with my tunnel vision.”

As a former Stanley Cup winner and an elder statesman on the club, Thornton is a guy the younger players turn to in the Bruins’ dressing room. He’s positive about the Bruins’ chances and their ability to regain their past form.

“It’s not hard, it’s playoffs. We let a couple slip, we’ve got to dig deep. There’s no other choice. As a professional you’ve got to bring everything you can.”