Shawn Thornton/Photo by S. Bradley

Maybe it was because the Bruins were defending Stanley Cup champions this season and everyone was trying to go at them harder than ever.

Whatever the reason, Shawn Thornton had to increase his fight card to 20 bouts – tied for most in the league – after he battled in 14 the season before.

Maybe the extra time in the penalty box took its toll on Thornton’s offensive production, which was basically halved, but it was still a solid year for Boston’s popular fourth-line right winger.

Thornton continued to be a glue guy in the dressing room when he wasn’t teaming with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille to provide Boston with one of the league’s best energy lines. He again decided to skip free agency and re-up for the Bruins at a salary that he might’ve exceeded on the open market, and now will be one of the leaders tasked with getting the Bruins back in the frame of mind that will make them want to return to the mountaintop after getting knocked off.

If they shopped around the league or in their own farm system, the Bruins probably wouldn’t be able to find someone that does all the things Thornton does, and does them willingly, at the price they pay. So this marriage will continue, and Thornton will try to make sure his statistics better reflect his high effort level in 2012-13.

Stats

Regular season: 81 GP, 5-8-13, minus-7

Playoffs: 5 GP, 0-0-0, Even

Contract status: Signed through 2013-14 at a cap hit of $1.1 million

Regular season recap

Highlight: Thornton earned a rare penalty shot and made the most of it with a backhand goal during a 5-3 win against Winnipeg Jan. 10. He came out of the penalty box (after a phantom penalty against him) and drew a slash from Tim Stapleton. Thornton also used his fists to punish former Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart during the victory.

Lowlight: Like most of the Bruins, Thornton had a night to forget in Dallas on New Year’s Eve. In 7:56 of ice time he was point-less, failed to land a shot on goal and took a costly penalty against Dallas defenseman Mark Fistric in a 4-2 loss.

Playoff recap: After five point-less games against Washington, Thornton was scratched in favor of Jordan Caron the last two games of the seven-game loss. Head coach Claude Julien later explained the move was necessary because Boston needed Caron’s skill and versatility in the lineup in case Patrice Bergeron was unable to give the Bruins much due to injury.

Grade: B-plus. Thornton was as gritty and could be, but he needed to find some of the finish that made him a threat in 2010-11.

Carnac predicts … pushed once again this fall by Boston’s up-and-comers, Thornton continues to be an inspirational leader on the ice and returns to double-digit goals. But it could be his farewell tour as a regular member of the Bruins’ lineup.