Bruins forward Shawn Thornton talked with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday about the end of the regular season, the physical nature of the playoffs and more. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Bruins have been on a hot streak lately, going 15-0-2 in the month of March. The run has secured a division title for the Bruins with seven games to go. It has come at a cost, however, as the players are a little sleep-deprived after all the traveling and back-to-backs.
“You get sore, you get tired,” Thornton said. “I think the change in time zones — last week or the week before we were in four different time zones in five days. It just screws up your sleep pattern.”
With Zdeno Chara now 37 years old, there has been speculation that the defenseman will be rested over the next few games.
“He’s one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever met,” Thornton said. “He wants to win at the end of the day, though, and I think that’s the most important thing. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, whether he’s going to get some games off or some road trips off or what they’re going to do, but I’m sure it’ll be a civil conversation.’
Thornton enjoyed the extra playing time in March due to all the back-to-backs. It was not only helpful for him, but for his line as well.
“I always want to play,” Thornton said. “The month of March, actually, with so many games is pretty good, too. Our line got a fair amount of ice time through the whole thing as well with all the back-to-back stuff. The more I can play, the happier I am. I always want to be out there.”
Jarome Iginla, one of the Bruins’ best players this season, has become a fan favorite a year after he almost landed in Boston via a trade. Thornton appreciates the veteran’s abilities and offensive skills.
“I noticed over the year of practice, even in simple drills, when he gets over the blue line, he’s looking see where he’s going to shoot on the goalie,” Thornton said. “I talked to him about it, that’s something that comes natural to him. I get over the blue line, I’m just hoping the puck is still on my stick. I think he’s got a natural ability to read the play offensively and read goalies and know where to put pucks. He’s got an unbelievable shot. I don’t think that everybody is gifted with that.”
With the NHL awards to be decided upon soon, Thornton was asked who he thinks is most deserving on the Bruins.
“Tuukka [Rask] and the Vezina. … I think he should have had it a few times and he hasn’t,” Thornton said. “I think he’s finally starting to get some recognition he deserves. Not that he needs it, but he’s been so good for a lot of years. Kind of just flew under the radar, now people are definitely taking notice.”
With the playoffs only weeks away, there will be a noticeable change in playing style, according to Thornton.
“Pucks are optional for the first 10 minutes of the first game, usually, depending on who you’re playing, I guess,” Thornton said. “There’s a lot more physicality out on the ice in the playoffs, everybody is finishing their checks. Not just the guys that are expected to finish their checks, but everybody sacrifices themselves to win that game.”