BOSTON — The anticipation and the build-up leading into Thursday night’s Bruins-Sabres game was undeniable. Much of that surrounded the possibility of some hand-to-hand combat between two increasingly bitter rivals.
However, not much came of that, aside from one quick first-period scrap that might leave the Bruins without one of their toughest players moving forward.
Shawn Thornton was the one who ended up answering the bell and taking on new Buffalo enforcer John Scott. The two tough guys wasted no time in their first shifts on the ice together, dropping the gloves and throwing punches before the puck even hit the ice at 2:53 of the first period.
Thornton, giving six inches and more than 50 pounds to the journeyman heavyweight in the white shorts with blue trim, was served a steady diet of right hands from Scott. The bout didn’t last long, but the damage was clearly done.
Thornton served his fighting major, but once his five minutes were up, he headed directly for the B’s bench, went down the tunnel, back to the dressing room with his night on the ice done.
His status, or even the nature of his injury is unknown at this point.
“We’ll know more [Friday],” head coach Claude Julien said. “Again, he’s being evaluated. Until we get a definite answer, nothing more.”
Thornton’s adversary in the other locker room showed concern for him after the game.
“Yeah, I was asking our trainers how he’s doing,” Scott said. “You never want to hurt somebody, I was kind of concerned after the first period we never saw him again. So I still don’t know how he’s doing, hopefully he’s doing well. You hate to see someone leave the game like that.”
Scott also said that he might have gotten Thornton behind the ear with one of his big right hands.
“I think it was the one over the top, it might have hit him in the back of the ear and dropped him. And then yeah, the uppercut didn’t help.”
As always, Thornton was given ample amounts of respect in his own locker room, as well, with the forward showing no fear in taking on the much larger Scott.
“He’s been a great team guy here for the last six years, and he takes a lot of pride in what he does, sticking up for himself and his teammates,” Milan Lucic said. “He’s a great team guy, and he’s an important person to this hockey club. It was unfortunate that he missed the rest of the game after that, but knowing him, he’s a tough guy and he’ll try to get back as soon as he can.”
Obviously the Bruins won’t know what to do in terms of juggling the lineup until they get the full report on Thornton. Julien switched up his lines prior to Thursday’s game, inserting call-up Lane MacDermid into the lineup. The young forward is known more for his fists than anything else. His insertion to the lineup sent Chris Bourque to the press box as a healthy scratch, while Daniel Paille moved up to skate alongside Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley.