Hard work pays off for 'The Granite Man'

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Hard work pays off for 'The Granite Man'

NEW YORK CITY – Tim Schaller didn’t hesitate when asked where his spectacular, dangling goal against the befuddled New York Rangers ranked on his personal highlight reel.

“It's No. 1 [on the list],” said Schaller, with a wide smile. “That shot straight to the top...that was a good one.”

It was an absolute thing of beauty as Schaller attacked down the left wing with confident aggressiveness, and made a couple of quick-cut, dangling moves around Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Smith on his way to the net. Schaller kept it going after the nice stick moves, though, as he snapped a finishing shot over Henrik Lundqvist for the score. It all happened in one quick lightning strike from the fourth line winger, and when it was all over the Bruins had a 4-1 lead over the Rangers and King Henrik was immediately pulled from the game.

Both Schaller and Sean Kuraly scored at the end of Boston’s 6-1 blowout win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, and for Schaller it actually set a new career-high at the NHL level with his eighth goal of the season. It was pretty appropriate on a night when all four of Boston’s forward lines contributed goals to the cause, and it once again showed that the New Hampshire native has a little offensive wiggle within his energy game.

“I thought it was an all-around effort. Great goal by Schaller, and Kuraly scored even though it was late. We’re getting contributions from that line and they’re doing a good job in the O-zone,” said Cassidy. “That was a good one [for Schaller]. Last year he had a few down the wings where he would bury it high every once in a while, so good for him. In the first period [it looked like] they were having trouble finding their legs and getting space, but in the second period I thought that line did a good job of opening things up and making some plays with the puck. They were attacking the net, so good for him.”

Schaller got some time on the third line in the last few games with the forward combos reconfigured without the suspended Brad Marchand, but he was back to his customary energy line role for the first time in a little while on Wednesday night.

Certainly it felt like there was an added comfort and confidence factor for Schaller on this night while burying the filthiest goal of his NHL career.


Morning Skate: Yes, Kessel values Cups more than scoring titles

File photo

Morning Skate: Yes, Kessel values Cups more than scoring titles

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while shaking my head at the disparity in talent levels between Ilya Kovalchuk and anybody on Team offense to the guys we sent over there.

*Phil Kessel said he values winning Stanley Cups over scoring titles, but does he value them more than hot dogs from his favorite food stand in Toronto? That is the question.

*Here’s a fine tribute from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Steve Conroy about his late partner at the Boston Herald, columnist/hockey writer Steve Harris, who sadly passed away a couple of days ago while still manning the beat until the past week or so. It’s still such a shocking loss for everybody in the local hockey community, and this piece does a good job of capturing his spirit.

*So, controversial Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is going to now also be the CEO of the team as well? Yikes.

*Damien Cox takes a look at the Canadian NHL teams that look like they’re going to fall short of the playoffs and what they need to do to right their respective ships.

*The Nashville Predators explain how they are “all in” at the NHL trade deadline with another clear shot at a Cup run.

*For something completely different: A ranking of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies from worst to best that suffers from recent-itis where a number of movies just released are probably given way, way too much deference even though they are good superhero flicks.



Bruins look for another turning point with rugged trip ahead

Bruins look for another turning point with rugged trip ahead

When the Bruins take the ice against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night deep in the outer reaches of Western Canada, there will be a couple of things at play. One will be the start of a long sprint to the end of the regular season with 27 games in a scant 52 days with no more long breaks to catch their collective breath.

The worst of the worst will be 16 games in March, which could be the thing that ultimately knocks the Black and Gold down a peg after they’ve managed to play through everything else this season.

Trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning by just a couple of points for the NHL’s top spot, the Bruins know the schedule itself will be one of their biggest challenges of the season.

“We’re certainly aware of our schedule the rest of the way, and we know that it’s going to be a challenge. There aren’t too many more days off and we’re pretty much playing every other day,” said Patrice Bergeron. “So some of it will be about getting the proper rest and making sure we’re doing everything to be ready to play. But this has also been a group that’s done a really good job of handling other things that have been thrown at us whether it’s injuries or something else. This is just another challenge to take on.”

But the other, smaller picture is of the five-game trip through Canada with a final stop in Buffalo next Sunday. The Bruins will play those five games in ten days in their longest trip of the regular season. They hope to conjure up some of the same mojo that kicked off their three-month winning binge way back in mid-November. It was then that the Bruins righted the ship on a trip through California and won games in Los Angeles and San Jose that kicked off a four-game winning streak that helped change the season.

The Bruins are much more comfortable now with a giant cushion for a playoff spot and a legitimate chance to overtake the Lightning, but Bruce Cassidy is hoping to see the same kind of hunger in this particular long stretch away from home.

“This is much more about what we are and what we look like, but having said that the [California trip] was the beginning of us [turning things around]. It had us gutting out some wins in typically tough places to play like L.A. and San Jose. [Anton] Khudobin was in net and we were relying on some call-up guys, but that was really when our D-corps really stiffened up,” said Cassidy. “It kind of got us back to our heads above water, and from there we kind of took off. But now this is a different group in a different position, and we’re pushing to be in a different position.

“I think you can say Tuukka [Rask] won us all these games or [Brad] Marchand or [Patrice] Bergeron. Our best players have been our best players, but our support players have been very good, especially on those nights when we’ve needed to lean on them a little more when they’ve able to shut down [the Bergeron Line]. I think our support players deserve a lot of credit for that.”

The Bruins clearly hope this mammoth trip can be another seasonal turning point that pushes them in a direction toward a strong, decisive finish to the marathon of a regular season.