GOLD STAR: Loui Eriksson has been a massive disappointment for the Vancouver Canucks, but he found a way to get some measure of payback against a Boston team that walked away from him in free agency a couple of years ago. Eriksson scored the game’s first goal two minutes into the proceedings when he overpowered Brandon Carlo in front of the Boston net, and then he added insult to injury with a shorthanded goal late in the third period to really put a capper on the blowout. Eriksson finished with the two goals and a plus-2 rating in his 17:18 of ice time, and also found a way to collect four shots on net and three takeaways with his always active stick. Those were the ninth and tenth goals scored during the regular season with Eriksson, who has really been a big Swedish bust in Vancouver to this point.
BLACK EYE: Brandon Carlo finished with a minus-4 rating. Oof. The young Bruins shutdown D-man was clearly struggling early when he was losing battles in front of the net highlighted by Loui Eriksson’s first goal, and he had major issues getting good gap control in a stretch where the Bruins are struggling defensively. It’s really a bit of bad timing for Carlo as his play is dipping right now as he’s been mentioned as a key prospect leading up to the NHL trade deadline. On the good side, Carlo dropped the gloves with Darren Archibald after he threw a questionable hit on David Pastrnak, and continues to slowly-but-surely grow into more of a physical, defensive stopper while learning at the feet of Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually outshot the Canucks by an 18-9 margin in the first period, and had some very good offensive chances turned away when Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak both hit the post in key spots. They had Anders Nilsson and the Canucks on the run based on controlling puck possession and getting some decent offensive chances against a goalie in Nilsson that isn’t a household name. But none of it mattered when Loui Eriksson scored just a few minutes into the first period and started a total defensive collapse that saw the Bruins surrender four goals in their worst period of the year. Through it all the Bruins continue to play hard even when a one-sided result on the scoreboard has pretty much dictated their fate.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jake DeBrusk was really good for the Bruins with his dad, Louie, working between the benches in Vancouver on the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast of the Bruins/Canucks game. DeBrusk had a shot that snapped off the post at the beginning of one of his early shifts, and then DeBrusk clobbered a few more chances at the front of the net as well among his four shots on net in 17:18 of ice time. Perhaps just as impressive DeBrusk turned over three pucks in his night’s work as he was a constant source of energy and attack for the Bruins. If DeBrusk had heard his name in trade rumors over the last couple of days, it certainly didn’t seem like that was really bothering him as he was one of Boston’s best players during the game.
BY THE NUMBERS: 10 – Tim Schaller scored a bit of a garbage time goal in the third period for the Bruins to bust up the shutout, and perhaps just as important Schaller is now a double-digit goal-scorer for the first time in his NHL career. His impressive development curve continues for the Black and Gold.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “We lost the slot battle in the first period. Not hard enough in that area. I thought we had our legs, but the commitment to defending the front of our net has come and gone lately, and it’s added up to goals scored against us.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN on the common thread in Saturday night’s loss to the Canucks that turned out to be a massive blowout.
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.
GOLD STAR: Who else but Patrice Bergeron? No. 37 has 13 goals in 15 games since the start of January, scored two more big goals in Wednesday night’s win over the Rangers and also made a huge defensive play in the first period to rob Vinni Lettieri of a goal at the doorstep. Not only all that, but Bergeron led the Bruins with seven shots on net and 11 shot attempts in his 18:10 of ice time as a dominant offensive force that never relented against the Rangers. The most amazing thing about it all was that No. 37 actually struggled in his usual role of dominant play with just a 6-for-16 performance on the draw to go along with everything he did offensively. It seems like Bergeron has been at the top of so many of the good things for the B’s lately, and that was the case again in New York.
BLACK EYE: It’s not often that the Bruins chase Henrik Lundqvist out of a game, but that’s exactly what they did on Wednesday after hitting their stride in the second period. The first couple of goals were pretty legit scores by the Bruins even if King Henrik was a little overactive on the first one scored by Riley Nash. But Patrice Bergeron beat Lundqvist from long distance with a five hole goal that was completely soft serve, and then Tim Schaller dangled through a pair of Rangers defenders before flipping a shot past the Rangers No. 1 goalie. That was it for Lundqvist, who was pulled after allowing the four goals on 16 shots behind a Rangers defense that really wasn’t putting in much of an effort in front of him.
TURNING POINT: Anton Khudobin was massive in the first period when it was still a close game, and the Rangers were taking advantage of a lot of uncharacteristically good chances against the Bruins defense. Khudobin made a flurry of saves to deny Mika Zibanejad and Rick Nash after Nash had already scored a pretty good-looking goal earlier in the period, and he kept things close until the Bruins got untracked in the second half of the first period. This is not the first time that Khudobin stood tall for the Bruins while they got their bearings on the second half of back-to-back games, and it continues to be a huge boost for the Black and Gold.
HONORABLE MENTION: Tim Schaller only had the one shot on net, but what a shot it was for the New Hampshire native. The Bruins winger took the puck on a dangling rush to the net, completely faked out both Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Smith and then beat a potential future Hall of Game goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist. It was Schaller’s goal that knocked Lundqvist out of the game and pushed the game into the blowout category, and it was also Schaller’s dangling beauty that immediately rose to the top of his own personal highlight reel package. With goals from Schaller and Sean Kuraly and a pair of goals from Patrice Bergeron, there was an impressive spread in scoring up and down the lineup. The score also gives fourth line winger Schaller a new career-high at the NHL level with his eighth goal of the season.
BY THE NUMBERS: 10 – the number of consecutive games where David Pastrnak has a point after racking up an assist on Patrice Bergeron’s first goal. Pastrnak became the first Bruins player to post two point streaks of at least 10 games in a single season since Cam Neely in 1993-94.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “That first period, it was pretty even and then we started moving the puck and established ourselves much better, establishing the forecheck and placing pucks to establish our game and make more executions. We scored some goals that put us in a good spot going into the third period.” –Zdeno Chara, on a rundown of how the Bruins/Rangers game went from tight first period contest to third period blowout.