BOSTON — At both Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Mass., and at TD Garden, Shawn Thornton’s dressing room stall is in a corner.
But regardless of the situation, he never sits in that corner and pouts. He handles every inquiry with professionalism and keeps an upbeat attitude that rubs off on his teammates. Even the notion that he might be a healthy scratch for tomorrow’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series with Philadelphia hasn’t ruined his disposition. In fact, it’s made his work ever harder — if that’s possible.
Thornton has spent the last two days of practice, including today at the Garden, skating on a “fifth line” with usual healthy scratches Trent Whitfield and Brad Marchand. Vladimir Sobotka and Blake Wheeler have slid down the depth chart to play with Steve Begin in the aftermath of Marc Savard’s return to active duty.
“We’ll see what happens tomorrow. I don’t know what’s going on yet. Yeah, if you go by the lines then I’m the odd man out,” Thornton said. “It sucks sitting out … everyone wants to win. Everyone wants to make what they feel is the best decision to put the team in the best spot. I think if you ask around, most people say I’m a team guy, so I’ll do whatever.
Doing whatever has meant staying out on the ice even longer than usual to stay sharp in case he’s in suit rather than a hockey sweater for the upcoming series.
“If I’m out, then I’ll stay on top of my conditioning to make sure I’m ready when called upon if need be,” he said. “Obviously, I’ve been around, this is my 13th year. I haven’t been told what’s going on, but in case – and the last game I only played five minutes too – so it’s not like the extra work is going to hurt me. I try to take to take it upon myself to be on top of those things and be ready if called.”
It has to be difficult for Thornton to see the writing on the wall that say he won’t be active against the Flyers, who no doubt will try to exploit the Bruins’ drop0ff in toughness without him. However, Thornton’s potential scratch is sort of a sign that Boston’s depth has hit a high point.
“We have a very deep team,” Thornton said. “I’m hoping it wasn’t an easy decision if that’s what happens, and if it’s not me sitting out, it’s somebody else, I’m hoping that’s not an easy decision. That’s definitely a good sign for the depth on this team.”
As for the potential of sitting Thornton against the Flyers and how his team would make up for that toughness void, head coach Claude Julien addressed the matter this way:
“That decision hasn’t been made. We are, I guess I would consider us, team tough. So I don’t see any issues any way we go. And if there is, they’ll be addressed. So it’s as simple as that.”