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When Milan Lucic went down with a broken thumb almost a month ago it was a huge blow to the Bruins. Lucic is the type of player who isn’t known for his scoring or play-making ability, but more of his heart and intensity to get the Bruins into games. Since he has been out, the Bruins needed a player to step in and be that presence on the ice, and veteran winger Shawn Thornton has filled in nicely.
Although Thornton has always been a fighter on the ice, with Lucic out it has been his job to get the fans and B’s into games night in and night out. The Bruins have struggled without Lucic and Marc Savard but you cannot blame Thornton because he has brought it every night. It’s just too bad the offense didn’t get going to help him out.
With Thornton and Lucic on the ice at the same time they are a very dangerous duo and are a force to be reckoned with. Thornton stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs 217 pounds; Lucic is a little larger at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds. The two of them love to hit and love to fight, and they both usually win those fights as well. Lucic led the team in penalty minutes last season with 136, but Thornton wasn’t too far behind with 123.
So far this season Thornton already leads the team with 42 penalty minutes, while Lucic has nine. After Oct. 16 (Lucic’s last game), Thornton has piled up 28 of his 42 penalty minutes. The majority of them came in last Saturday’s game against Buffalo when he spent 12 minutes in the penalty box. Thornton has been on a rampage fighting so far this season and if the Bruins want to be successful then the rest of the team needs to get more involved as well.
Although Thornton is a good fighter and can get the team into a game, his offensive-touch isn’t quite there. He has a total of three points on the season with one goal and two assists. I know that he’s only played in 16 games this year, but in 79 games last year he was only able to finish with 11 points (six goals and five assists) and those were career-highs in points and goals. He did net two out of his three career game-winning goals last season (that’s not many, considering this will be his seventh year in the league).
With Lucic out (he’s expected to return next week), Thornton has done a great job handling the fighting and hitting, but he just can’t do the same on offense that Lucic does. Lucic had 42 points last season and that is far more than Thornton’s 33 for his career. Lucic even had 27 as a rookie. Thornton has never played a full season and last year was the closest he has come with 79 games.
So, with Lucic slated to return very soon and Thornton continuing to hit his way to Bruin’s victories, Boston seems to be turning the corner on a difficult start to the season. Now, all we need is to have Savard back and things will start to heat up while the temperature begins to cool down.