Thornton ‘doubtful’ so Bruins’ 12th-forward battle continues

Seguin/By S. Bradley

Once the playoffs get started next week, Bruins winger Shawn Thornton should be fully healed and cleared to play.

So time is running short for those players that want to be Boston’s 12th forward once Thornton is back in the lineup.

The battle will continue tonight in New York, as Thornton is “doubtful” to face the Rangers because of the stitches over his right eye, according to head coach Claude Julien. That means Tyler Seguin, Daniel Paille and Michael Ryder, the players most likely on the bubble, get another chance to make their pitch.

Paille has made great strides lately serving as a perfect left-wing complement for the fourth line and solid penalty-killer, as he displayed Saturday against Atlanta.

In that same game, Ryder made up for a mostly non-descript performance by scoring the game-winning goal on a penalty shot.

Seguin, meanwhile, hasn’t hurt the Bruins, but hasn’t helped much either. He’s gone eight games without a goal and has fired just two shots on net in his last three contests. He’s creating chances on a line with Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly, but not seeing results.

During his media briefing this morning in New York, Julien offered his opinion on Seguin’s play and how playoff-ready the rookie might be.

“I think there’s still time to see that. I can’t stand here and say he’s in, and I’m not going to say he’s out,” said Julien about Seguin and the playoffs. “I think we’re going to keep seeing him play and the one thing that I can tell you is I feel that in the last month, month and a half, he’s taken some good strides in regards to feeling more confident about his game. Like any other young player, there’s better games than others. But certainly, he’s built more confidence in his game for himself and even for us watching him than he had in the first half. That’s a good sign.”

“He’s got to get that confidence and be able to understand that he can go in the corners and come out with the puck,” the coach continued. “He doesn’t have to run anybody over, but you have to have that confidence. We’ve seen him get better in that area.”

A game with the rugged Rangers could be the perfect opportunity for Seguin to make his physical statement to the coaches.

After tonight, there are just three regular-season games left. The race is on to be in the playoff lineup.

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