By Lenny Neslin, Boston.com Staff
Shawn Thornton hasn’t played a minute since Game 2’s 6-5 win over the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals. Before the Bruins hopped aboard their buses today to begin their trek to Vancouver, Thornton got some ice time at this morning’s hour-long practice with the gold line, which lately has consisted of Daniel Paille, Rich Peverley, and Gregory Campbell.
Coach Claude Julien wasn’t surprised to hear a question about Thornton playing with the gold line.
“Well, I knew that question was going to come up and I even said it before practice,” Julien said. “I said, ‘four golds, somebody is going to ask me about it.’ They don’t get the same amount of ice time those others do. And with [Thornton] not having played, I think it was important for them to get a regular turn at practice. I wouldn’t read more into it than it was.”
Julien wanted everyone to get skating time because some players didn’t practice Saturday.
“The ice was probably not its best and it was a tough grind to push through this practice today, which I think is not a bad thing because we might as well get used to it,” Julien said. “That’s what the buildings are like on game nights. I think we pushed ourselves through pretty good today.”
Thornton and Mark Recchi are the only two players on the roster who have held the Stanley Cup. Recchi won it in 1991 with the Penguins and in 2006 with the Hurricanes, and Thornton held it in 2007 with the Ducks. While Julien said it was “invaluable” to have them in the locker room to encourage rookies through slumps, Recchi said his experience didn’t matter at this point.
“We’ve learned a lot through the course of the season with this group of guys. There’s been some guys that have been through a lot, same as Vancouver, they’ve got some guys that have been through a lot: some hardships, some good things. I mean, this is fun. It’s exciting times for everybody.”
Some focus has been drawn to the two teams’ last meeting on Feb. 26, when Bruins netminder Tim Thomas held the Canucks to one goal in a 3-1 win. Thomas hasn’t lost in three career starts against the Canucks, sporting a .990 save percentage and averaging just 0.33 goals allowed per game.
“You know there’s no rhyme or reason to it, it just happens to be the way it’s worked out. But there is no use dwelling on the success you’ve had before because what success you can have moving forward here over the next couple of games is what’s going to be important.”