For Brandon Carlo, the expectations were high entering this season. With free agency only a year away, he set out to prove that he was key to this teams future. In his third season, Carlo has done exactly that and been one of the Bruins best defensemen. As this team has battled injuries Carlo’s play has steadily improved. With the postseason less than a month away, Carlo has become a key piece.
Unlike Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug, Carlo will never be an offensive catalyst. He is a true throwback defenseman and plays the position in a traditional sense. He is physical, tough along the boards, and stays close to his own zone. In 225 games, Carlo only has eight career goals. The Bruins, however, do not need him to be an offensive force. With Zdeno Chara near the end of his career, Carlo is proving he can handle a bigger role.
What makes Carlo’s season more impressive is how he has bounced back from an up and down sophomore campaign. Last season he made too many mistakes with the puck and did not play responsible hockey. He would get caught cheating up the ice and for the second consecutive season, he missed the playoffs due to injury. His third campaign, however, has been a completely different story.
Like most true defensemen Carlo’s smart plays won’t necessarily show up in the stat sheet every night. He is averaging a career-high ice time of 20:59 and his plus-minus ranks second among all Bruins defenseman. Wherever the Bruins, have put Carlo this season he has excelled. His career high in ice time reflects how much Bruce Cassidy trusts him as it is also the fourth highest on the team. Down the stretch, the key for Carlo will be staying healthy.
Additionally, over the last two seasons, Carlo has been bitten by the injury bug late in the season. In 2016-2017, he suffered a concussion on the last day of the season which forced him to miss the playoffs. Last year he suffered a horrific ankle injury in late March that ended his season. This year he has managed to stay healthy and use his unique blend of size and skating ability to his advantage.
With only six regular season games remaining Carlo will be looking to avoid major injuries and make his first playoff appearance. The Bruins will need him as they look to make a deep playoff run. Regardless of how this season ends Carlo’s development has been a key storyline. He has shown his importance to the future of the franchise which is what the Bruins have always expected.