BOSTON — Shawn Thornton was back where he belonged Monday night, but not happy how he got there.
The Oshawa-born Bruins’ bruiser came back on the wing for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal against the Philadelphia Flyers, at the expense of a season-ending knee injury to Marco Sturm.
“Reward isn’t the right word,” Thornton said when reminded he hadn’t rocked the boat when told he would sit Game 1 for the returning Marc Savard. “(Sturm) is a teammate and a friend.”
That aside, Thornton might be the ideal addition to the ranks in what’s expected to be a more heated series as it heads back to Philadelphia on Wednesday.
The Flyers started slow in Game 1, down 2-0 and played catch-up most of Saturday afternoon, before being out-played in overtime, losing 5-4. They had to stake a turf claim against a Boston team that had bucked the trend of the 2010 playoffs and gone undefeated at home before Monday.
“We’re standing here 4-0 so it has been a factor for us,” Boston coach Claude Julien said before the game. “We stole a game in Buffalo and made sure that we won our home games, but having said that, you’ve got to be prepared for all kinds of scenarios.
“When you’re at this stage and you have good teams left in the playoffs. Every team likes to have home ice advantage, but when you look around and see a lot of teams winning on the road, I know we’re not intimidated going on the road.”
Julien came in for rebuke by Philly coach Peter Laviolette for Sunday’s comments that Flyer defenceman Chris Pronger was taking physical liberties in Game 1.
“I thought his game was pretty clean (but) that Mark Recchi (of the Bruins) took a couple of runs at Pronger,” Laviolette countered. “I saw Pronger competing hard in battles and he had the altercation with Mark (it was Recchi getting an extra minor), but that’s Chris’ job, like it’s Zdeno Chara’s job on the other side, to try and play our skill guys with an edge.”
Enter Thornton, usually a fourth liner, but someone who can rile the Flyers.
“Watching hockey sucks, I want to be in every series,” Thornton said. “All summer and winter long you work to get to this point. On the ice, you go with the flow, but I watched (from the press box) and almost had a heart attack.”
But Thornton vowed not to go overboard.
“I don’t expect them to take stupid penalties at this time of year, nor us,” he said. “Discipline is huge in playoffs and becomes even more important coming down the stretch.”
After Thornton spoke on Monday morning, a forlorn Sturm came into the TD Garden interview area using bulky crutches. The 31-year-old will have right anterior cruciate ligament surgery once his medial collateral ligament heals, but will be away a total of seven to eight months. He had the same mishap with his left knee in December of 2008 and about the same time away.
“I could hear right away a big pop ... I heard it before and knew right away that it’s going to be the same thing,” Sturm said of pushing off to hit Philly’s Matt Carle on his first shift in Game 1. “It was just unexpected, too fast after the last one. (The right leg) was stiff as a rock, it got even stronger, because I had to do a lot of things on it (re-habbing the left).
“It’s a tough one, but I always came back from big injuries and I’m going to do it again.”
Defenceman Mark Stuart also practised with the Bruins Monday for the first time in weeks as he recovers from an infection from finger surgery. As was the case with Savard’s Grade 2 concussion, Stuart’s is suddenly accelerating his comeback and raising hopes in the room.
“Things are obviously looking more on the positive side,” Julien said. “But we’ll stay realistic. I wouldn’t write off (Stuart playing sometime in this series), but you don’t want to be making a comment that can backfire on you.”