Shawn Thornton again faced the wrath of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety Sunday after a third-period incident in Game 5 Saturday night in which he squirted the Canadiens’ P.K. Subban with a water bottle. It was the second time the enforcer has been fined by the league this season.
Thornton was sitting on the bench at 19:13 of the third period when he squirted Subban with water as the Montreal player skated by, an act judged to be “unsportsmanlike conduct” by Player Safety.
He was fined $2,820.52, the maximum permitted under the CBA, with the money going to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
“I obviously got caught up in the moment,” Thornton said Sunday morning. “The fine, I’ll pay the fine. Obviously agree with what the league does there, pay the fine and move on. I’m sorry that this silly incident kind of overshadowed how my teammates played and the great win and how good this series has been.
“I think that there’s definitely more important things that we could be focusing on. I got caught up in the moment, probably shouldn’t have done that. Move on, get ready for Game 6, pay the fine, hopefully have a good showing.”
Thornton did not take questions from the media.
Coach Claude Julien said Saturday night that he didn’t get a chance to see the incident. But by Sunday morning he had, and he wasn’t happy.
“As coach, you always want to support your players, but there’s certain things you can’t support,” Julien said. “I don’t think I can support Shawn on those actions. To me, I don’t think we like seeing our players do that. Now, whether he got caught up in the game or whatever, to me he’s got to own up to it and that’s all I’m going to say about it.”
Thornton has been fined a total of $87,435.97 this season, including $84,615.45 for punching Brooks Orpik while the Penguin was down on the ice in a game Dec. 7, which also resulted in a 15-game suspension.
Subban tried to downplay the situation after Game 5, saying, “I don’t need you guys to make a big deal out of it.”
But he also said he had been hit twice in the visor with water from the Bruins bench and “I couldn’t even see for a minute and a half. I was pretty upset about that, but that is part of the game.”
He added, “It’s just one of those things that frustrates you even more toward the end of the game. I don’t want to take away anything from their team. They played well, they executed. We have to be better.”
Trust in Fraser
The Bruins have won each of the two games in which Matt Fraser has played this series, with the winger being inserted in Game 4, in which he scored the winner in overtime. Julien was particularly complimentary of Fraser Sunday, after calling him “trustworthy” after Game 5. Asked about his trust in the young player, Julien said, “Everything he was doing on the ice was a guy being poised and making smart decisions and wasn’t panicking. So, as a coach, you have to go with your gut feeling and say this guy is doing the right thing. As much as you want to give a guy an opportunity to be trusted, he has to show you that he’s worthy of being trusted and he did that.” . . . The first line has had difficulty for most of the series, with all three players — Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Jarome Iginla — struggling to score points and make an impact. Krejci said he believed that by the end of Game 4 they had taken “baby steps” forward, and it seemed like they made another jump Saturday night. “They started doing the right things,” Julien said. “We’ve seen them enough all year that when they play a straight-line game and they play within their strength, which is being big, strong, and managing the puck well and hanging onto it in the offensive zone, that is when they become good. Although it wasn’t a five-on-five goal, it was nice to see Iggy score again [in the second period on the power play], and that line is starting to turn the corner.” . . . Most of the Bruins did not practice Sunday, with the team traveling to Montreal. Among the players who took the ice were Dennis Seidenberg, who continues to skate as he tries to come back from ACL/MCL surgery in early January.