Source: Thornton still a question mark for Game 3

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Source: Thornton still a question mark for Game 3

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Bruins are set to take the ice Monday night for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks, and there are whispers Shawn Thornton could be in the lineup to counteract the antagonizing methods used by some of the Vancouver players.

Thats far from set in stone, however.

A team source indicates no decision has been made to play Thornton, and Thornton's potential Finals debut will likely be a game-time decision. Theres a very good chance the Bruins will continue with the same lineup that includes players adept at keeping pace with the fast-skating Canucks.

Thornton, the Bruins' enforcer, has been a healthy scratch since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Patrice Bergeron missed the first two games against the Lightning because of post-concussion syndrome, and Tyler Seguin was impressively offensively in his absence. When Bergeron returned, coach Claude Julien kept Seguin in the lineup and deactivated Thornton.

It appears, however, that playing Thornton is a very real consideration, given the tenor of the first few games in the Cup Finals. Alexandre Burrows bit Bergeron in the finger in Game 1, and a grinning Maxim Lapierre taunted Bergeron by waving his own finger in Bergeron's face in Game 2, and there was a) no punishment by the league and b) no retaliation by the Bruins.

Thornton's presence, if nothing else, would put the notion of retaliation into the Canucks' consciousness.

Youre going to see 23 guys out there on the ice Monday night for warmups and well some decisions after the warmup, said a very coy coach Claude Julien on Monday nmorning.

Thornton would certainly bring some energy to the lineup, and is a guy both well-respected inside the dressing room and feared outside of it so there could be a role for him against a Vancouver team thats been free to take liberties against Boston players like Bergeron.

But theres also a question as to which player Thornton would replace. Seguin and Daniel Paille are the natural candidates for Thornton to replace, and both are special-teams players for the Bruins who do more than simply fill a role on the fourth line. Thornton can neither kill penalties (as Paille does) or take a spot on the power play (Seguin).

That being said, Julien wants to see more physicality out of the Bs fourth line during the spare shifts when they are out on the ice. Manny Malhotra gave his team a lift by winning six of seven faceoffs in his return after a nasty eye injury, and the Bruins need those kinds of intangibles from their own fourth line.

We feel that our fourth line . . . is certainly capable of matching that," said Julien. The Canucks' fourth line, he said, is "throwing their body around. We need to throw our body around as well, finish our check like weve done all year.

"This is a seven-game series. We know that eventually it takes its toll. I dont think they have a different mindset than we do, because theyre being as physical as we are.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Zdeno Chara said he is “feeling better” after going through a full practice with the Bruins, but the captain won’t be making the one game road trip to Buffalo for Saturday afternoon’s matinee game vs. the Sabres. 

Chara was going through line rushes and battle drills with the rest of his teammates while practicing for the second day in a row, but made it clear that his lower body injury hasn’t been cleared for game action yet. 

“It’s day-to-day. It feels better…yeah. But it’s still day-to-day,” said a rather laconic Chara when it came to questions about his injury. “It would feel much better [to play] than it feels [not playing].”

Claude Julien said his 39-year-old defenseman has moved into true “day-to-day” status as he nears a return after missing what will be his sixth game in a row on Saturday afternoon, but that he isn’t quite ready to go just yet.

“[Chara] and [Noel] Acciari won’t be on the trip,” said Julien. “I think [Chara] is getting pretty close. When you see him at practice things are going pretty well for him. I think that the term day-to-day is fitting for him right now. A lot of times when we say day-to-day we don’t know whether it’s going to be two days, three days or even a week. But in his case I would say that day-to-day is really day-to-day now with him.” 

One thing the Bruins can be heartened by is that they’ve managed to survive without Chara: the B’s have gone 2-2-1 and allowed just nine goals in the five games since their No. 1 defenseman went down. They have been able to continue collecting points in sometimes ugly, workmanlike fashion. 

That gives the Bruins the luxury of not rushing their D-man along before he’s ready and gives some of their other defensemen added confidence that they can effectively do the job with or without their 6-foot-9 stopper. 

Bergeron missing from practice; Bruins call up Blidh

Bergeron missing from practice; Bruins call up Blidh

BRIGHTON, Mass – Patrice Bergeron was missing from the Warrior Arena practice ice on Friday morning after Thursday’s shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes and Swedish energy forward Anton Blidh has been called up from Providence for the first time in his pro career. 

After practice, Bruins coach Claude Julien said Bergeron will be with the team for the trip to Buffalo, where the B's play Saturday, and that injured Zdeno Chara and Noel Acciari will stay behind. 

Blidh, 21, has five goals and four assists for nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season, and had a pretty solid NHL camp with the Bruins this fall while showing off his hard-hitting and sandpaper style. The former sixth-round pick appeared in 65 games with Providence last season and compiled 10 goals and four assists for 14 points with 48 penalty minutes.

Ryan Spooner replaced Bergeron in between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak for practice, and Blidh took a spot on the fourth line along with Acciari as he closes in on a return to the Black and Gold. Chara also skated in his second consecutive practice and took part in battle drills at the end. 

Here are the Bruins line combos and D-pairings from Friday practice prior to the team departing for Buffalo: 

Marchand-Spooner-Pastrnak

Schaller-Krejci-Backes

Beleskey-Nash-Czarnik

Blidh-Moore-Hayes/Acciari

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-K. Miller

C. Miller

 

Rask

Khudobin