The Boston Bruins’ leader in fighting majors with 17, Shawn Thornton proved to be so much more than a banger with steel knuckles this season. It seemed like the veteran winger’s work ethic never took a night off, as he skated in 79 games and made sure that calling his line the fourth line was a bit of a misnomer.

Thornton set career bests in goals and points and jelled with center Stephane Yelle, and the pair and whichever winger that joined them always kept the heat on opposing defenses and made sure that head coach Claude Julien could roll four lines and not wear out any of his skill guys.

Stats: 79 GP, 6-5-11, 123 PIM, minus-2 regular season; 10 GP, 1-0-1, 6 PIM, even rating playoffs.

Season highlight: The Nov. 13 win over Montreal was huge for a lot of the Bruins’ players, Thornton included. On his way to his career-high goals total, Thornton lit the lamp for the first time on the season in that game against the Canadiens just 2:31 in. Thornton’s goal sent the Bruins on their way to the 6-1 victory and he added an assist for his only multi-point night of the year.

Season low light: After skating through the regular season without being a healthy scratch and performing well in the Bruins’ first seven postseason games, Thornton was a healthy scratch for Game 4 against Carolina. Not being in uniform was probably the only way to stop Thornton from working hard, and he had to painfully watch as his team flopped 4-1 to the ‘Canes.

In summation … Thornton proved he could contribute to the Bruins on a regular basis as more than a pugilist, and his leadership in the locker room was invaluable.

Grade: A-minus. Thornton could still find a way to cash in more on his multitude of scoring opportunities but anything he gives the Bruins in that department is usually gravy.

The crystal ball says …
Thornton is a model of consistency and he should be able to duplicate, or improve on, his 2008-09 season in the upcoming year while continuing to be one of the club’s vocal leaders on and off the ice.