Shawn Thornton brings a certain reputation and everyone knows what it is. The Bruins winger is a fighter, and he takes pride in his craft.

But fisticuffs are not as prevalent in the postseason, and because of that, as well as the fact he doesn’t play on the special teams units, Thornton has been a healthy scratch on a number of occasions in the playoffs. And who knows? Maybe if Carl Soderberg had acclimated himself to the North American game a little more quickly, Thornton wouldn’t be in the lineup now.

But he is in the lineup, and he’s making the most of it. In Game 3 against the Rangers Tuesday night, he put in some of the most productive 6:42 of ice time you’ll ever see. On Johnny Boychuk’s game-tying goal, Thornton won a faceoff after Gregory Campbell was kicked out, then provided the screen to allow Boychuk’s shot to beat goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Then on the game-winner, Thornton tipped Campbell’s shot off Lundqvist’s mask and, if not for the strangest of bounces, would have had the goal himself, but linemate Daniel Paille cleaned it up. Thornton also provided three hits and some rather menacing interference when it appeared Derek Dorsett was trying to get Brad Marchand off the ice.

Coach Claude Julien has had to make some tough decisions regarding Thornton in the past. In the Stanley Cup run two years ago, Thornton was a healthy scratch for seven of the 25 games. But Thornton didn’t make Julien sorry when he put him in the lineup for the finals against Vancouver when he helped the B’s find a higher emotional gear in Game 3 at home. And Thornton and linemates Campbell and Paille were front and center in Game 7 when it was time to kill the clock and grind down the Canucks.

Thornton also has the gravitas within the dressing room to be able to give the struggling Tyler Seguin a tough-love pep talk, as he did before overtime in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs. Seguin then went out and produced his only point of the playoffs on Patrice Bergeron’s series winner.

Julien is a strong proponent of team toughness, but not goonism, and Thornton might be the perfect player to fill that role.

“He’s not a high-end skill player, but he still has enough skill that you can use him and play him. I’ve always liked our enforcer or the guy who can settle things when when they get out of hand to be able to play,” Julien said yesterday. “I don’t like having a guy sitting on the bench just playing two or three minutes and then just utilizing him just for those situations. Thorny fits the bill extremely well. He’s a smart player. The other guys play hard, they bring speed with (Paille), but Thorny will make the smart plays. He’ll chip pucks out of our end, he’ll flip pucks in the air from our own end when he’s sees (Paille) taking off. There’s some good chemistry with those three guys and there has been for quite a few years.”