Getty ImagesThroughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, we’ll be spotlighting unsung heroes around the postseason on a weekly basis.
He plays about eight minutes a night, yet his impact is more palpable than players with twice his ice time. He’s the most physically intimidating player on the Boston Bruins not named Zdeno Chara. Once in a while, he even gets offensive.
He’s Shawn Thornton, and together with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell he’s playing on the most underrated line in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They skate hard, hit harder and possess the puck in the offensive zone better than some of their opponents’ top lines do.
They’re the “Merlot Line”, because of “the cranberry Bruins jerseys they don in practice,” according to Joe Haggerty.
Both Paille and Campbell have been seen as something more than fourth liners in their careers, but Thornton’s had to work hard to break the stigma that he’s just a brawler who barely warrants a roster spot.
“He’s not a high-end skill player,” Coach Claude Julien told the Boston Globe. “But he still has enough skill so you can use him and play him. That’s the thing that, as a coach, I’ve always liked of our enforcer. He’s one of those guys who can settle things down when things get out of hand, but he’s able to play. I don’t like having a guy sit on the bench playing 2-3 minutes and just utilizing him in those [fighting] situations. Thorny’s fit the bill extremely well.”Read More »from Unsung Hero: Shawn Thornton powers Bruins’ Merlot Line, is a scary dude