By: Craig Eagles | Follow Me On Twitter @Eags37
Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug’s departure were bound to leave a gaping hole in the Bruins organization and defensive corps. Their departure might seem like old news right now given how well B’s young backend has played, but it’s apparent that it has had a considerable impact on Brandon Carlo.
Obviously, Carlo’s slow start to the season can be directly attributed to Torey Krug’s departure. One would also argue that his time playing with Chara on the penalty kill provided the two-way defender with a surge of confidence and poise.
Carlo’s increased role with the B’s comes at the appropriate time given his tenure with the organization and in the league. It seems like he might now be confronted with a revolving door of D partners, which isn’t easy for anyone to handle.
With Kevan Miller and Jakub Zboril playing so well and Jeremy Lauzon and Charlie McAvoy finding chemistry, Carlo is seeing his time on ice and role with the hockey club slightly change. There’s no question the B’s need Carlo now more than ever to step up and play a solid shut down role while providing veteran presence and leadership. It’s easy to forget Carlo’s age, given his years of experience, but one can’t overlook just how hard it is to develop chemistry with a new defensive partner.
Krug and Carlo were the perfect match and complimented each other extremely well. You can’t just snap your fingers and have great defensive chemistry; it takes time. Nevertheless, time is essential for Carlo and B’s right now, given the shortened season. An early injury to Carlo’s new D partner Matt Grzelcyk hasn’t helped matters.
All signs point to Grzelcyk returning sooner rather than later. Carlo played a solid game partnered with Connor Clifton last night against the Penguins and has looked a lot better in the last few outings, but there just seems to something lacking in his game right now. Grzelcyk’s return should provide some stability, but it just seems Carlo doesn’t have the same jump, jam, and comfort level to his game.
The B’s brain trust and crazed fanbase understand how valuable Brandon Carlo can be for the hockey club. Let’s face it, he hasn’t been rotten by any stretch, but it’s just time that the coaching staff makes sure that he’s set up to succeed with Grzelcyk playing on his left. In turn, the Boston University product needs to step up his game as well. The smooth-skating rearguard is at his best when he’s moving the puck efficiently while mitigating high-risk plays coming out of the defensive zone. Obviously, Grzelcyk is a fantastic skater, but at times he skates into trouble and tries to do way too much with the puck. His defensive game, decision making, stick positioning and compete level has steadily improved in the last few seasons, but there’s no question Bruce Cassidy and the organization are looking for more.
It’s way too early to panic, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Carlo get more ice time in key match-ups and situations, especially late in games. One would also assume he would get some more time on the penalty kill paired up Miller over the next stretch of games.
The B’s have done a great job so far covering the gaping hole left by the departure of Krug and Chara. Some might even say they have overachieved thus far. The Black and Gold can have a “next man up mentality” all they want, but for now, it would appear that Brandon Carlo will be forced to handle the burden of breaking in a new D partner if Grzelcyk were to continue to struggle to try and fill the void left by Krug.