By: Yanni Latzanakis | Follow Me On Twitter: @yanlatz
The NESN’s 7th Player award is presented annually to a player on the Bruins roster who has performed above and beyond expectations this season. The award has been given out since the 1968-69 season when Ed Westfall won the award that season according to Fandom.com.
The award has been given out to Bruins players who have turned into legends. To name a few: Terry O’Reilly, Cam Neely, Barry Pederson, and Rick Middleton. Recently, the award has been given to Bruins players like Tim Thomas, Milan Lucic, David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, and Charlie McAvoy.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 31, 2018
This year, the Bruins have been one of the best teams in the league and one of the most dominant at times. Their dominance has been in part from incredible performances from up and down the lineup. Of course, the Bruins top line made up of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak is a constant threat night-in-night-out. But, part of the Bruins success comes from unlikely heroes in the forward group, the defensive core, and both goaltenders. Also, a plethora of injuries this year has caused many different players to be called upon through the “next man up” mentality.
Here’s a list of every Bruins player that has sustained an injury of some sort over the course of the season to date:
— Carolyn Mooney (@caramooney) March 27, 2019
With the Bruins so successful, we can easily make a case for 4 or 5 players who deserve the 7th Player Award. Jaroslav Halak has been a huge surprise as a strong backup sharing the net with Tuukka Rask. David Krejci has not missed a game this season and is having his second best season based on points with 65 through 76 games. Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly could also be in the conversation who have both become fan favorites in the bottom 6.
Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak have split responsibilities between the pipes for the Bruins this season, and their numbers certainly show it.
Check out tonight’s Rockland Trust Relationship presented by Rockland Trust Bank, Where Each Relationship Matters. pic.twitter.com/8Ged5Pqltm
— NESN (@NESN) March 25, 2019
My pick, however, is Brandon Carlo. In his third season, he has been a big part of the Bruins success this season. He has not done it in a flashy way though. He has been doing the right things in the defensive zone and neutral zone and at times jumped in the offense. He might not be the clear-cut frontrunner for the player who has gone above and beyond this season because his numbers are not outstanding. But, if you watch Brandon Carlo play on a nightly basis, his shutdown play can’t be missed. There have been so many times this year where I have said to myself “wow, Brandon Carlo has really stepped it up this season.”
— Matt Kalman (@MattKalman) March 26, 2019
Carlo has had a couple of good seasons before this one but nothing too incredible. He hit a couple bumps in the road towards the ends of the last two seasons. On April 8, 2017, Carlo suffered a concussion after a collision with Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. This knocked him out for the playoffs as he missed all 6 games against the Senators in the 2017 post-season. Right before the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Carlo suffered a broken fibula in the third period of a game against the Florida Panthers. For the second straight season, Carlo would miss the entire playoffs.
Brandon Carlo injury. Your ankle isn’t supposed to go that way. He’s so unlucky. pic.twitter.com/vLb2kK15iN
— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) March 31, 2018
These injuries have definitely hurt the Bruins defense in the playoffs and have set back Carlo’s development into a top-tier defenseman. This season, he has come back from the injuries stronger, better, and more confident. He is making the right plays and using his size to eliminate opponent scoring chances. But it’s not just his defensive abilities. He also has the awareness and confidence to jump into the offensive rush at the right times and contribute to scoring chances in the attacking zone.
Brandon Carlo’s first goal in 44 games puts the Bruins ahead of Tampa Bay.
3-2 game. pic.twitter.com/VTSxXCQcty
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) March 26, 2019
Carlo is averaging just about 21 minutes of ice time this season. He has scored two goals and six assists for eight points this season while also compiling a +18 rating. His hockey IQ and his defensive awareness has made him into a top shut down defenseman for the Bruins who is really growing into his top-four role for the B’s. He has been arguably the most consistent Bruin this season. He did miss a few games earlier this season but has not let it hinder his play or his confidence.
If Brandon Carlo stays healthy for the Bruins throughout the playoffs, it will be huge for the team defense in their quest for the Stanley Cup. Whether Carlo wins the 7th Player award or not, he is still a huge force for the Bruins this season and is vital for the Bruins defense to combat the high-flying Maple Leaf offense that the Bruins will almost certainly face in the first round. Either way, the Bruins have multiple candidates for the 7th Player Award which is a great thing, and any of those candidates can take home the hardware.