By: Spencer Lindsay | Follow me @dispencer88
Brandon Carlo exited Game three on Thursday night after taking a hard hit from Islanders fourth-line forward Cal Clutterbuck. Immediately after taking the hit, Carlo struggled multiple times to get back onto his feet before he finally had to be helped off the ice. He did not return to the game, and Bruins fans everywhere likely expected the worst. Given Carlo’s concussion history, including one just this year, it seemed fair to expect this would be a lengthy absence. For those who didn’t happen to see the hit, here is a replay from the hit in Game three.
You can see immediately that Carlo is in some trouble following the hit. Now with concussions, it’s always important to remember how tricky they can be. Seemingly innocuous hits can take a player off the ice for months, usually carrying a week-to-week injury designation, as was the case with Carlo earlier this season. On the flip side of this issue, we’ve seen players take what look to be brutal hits and be back within a few days. That being said, the Bruins and Brandon Carlo may have dodged a bullet. Bruce Cassidy offered a much more optimistic outlook on Carlo today than most Bruins fans would have expected.
Obviously, day-to-day still means that the Bruins are missing a big piece on their blue line, and realistically it might be pre-mature to try and get Carlo back before Game four. However, given all we know about Carlo and his history with concussions, a day-to-day injury designation seems like the team, and the player may have gotten off lucky. If the Bruins can get Carlo back at some point in the playoffs, that has to be seen as a bonus.
Who Plays in Game 4?
Now the question becomes, who will take Carlo’s place on the blue line for Game four? As you can see above, Bruce Cassidy mentioned Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, and Jarred Tinordi as potential candidates to fill in for Carlo if he’s not ready to play Saturday night. The question is, which of those three should play? Of the three, only Tinordi has playoff experience (10 games throughout his career).
Objectively speaking, Vaakanainen seems the least likely candidate to play, given how little he played in the regular season. So between Zboril and Tinordi, it looks like it comes down to what style of defenseman Bruce Cassidy wants in the lineup. Zboril offers great puck movement and is, therefore, less likely to get trapped in his own zone against an aggressive Islanders forecheck. On the other hand, Tinordi brings much more physicality against an Islanders team not afraid to throw the body.
Miller Not Quite Ready
One player we definitely will not see suit up for Game four in Carlo’s place is Kevan Miller. The big right-hander has been sidelined since taking a vicious hit from Washington Capitals Defenseman Dmitry Orlov in Game Four of the first round of the playoffs. Miller did not make the trip with the team to Long Island and is unavailable regardless of his injury. However, it seems as though his return is getting closer. According to Bruce Cassidy, Miller skated back in Boston this morning to appear he’s trending toward a return.
All of this seems to be relatively good news for the Bruins, who will look to take a 3-1 series lead in Long Island on Saturday night at 7:30 PM.