By: Danielle DuBois | Follow Me on Twitter @DanielleDuBois
The Boston Bruins defense is remarkable this season. With almost the same roster as last season’s defense, what caused this sudden turnaround? Each week we will be breaking down a player on the Bruins’ defense and discussing why it works. This week we will take a look into Brandon Carlo.
Brandon Carlo started his hockey career by playing with the minor league team, the Colorado Thunderbirds. Carlo spent five years with the Thunderbirds before joining the Tri-City Americans in the Western Hockey League. After playing briefly with the Providence Bruins, Carlo was moved up to the Boston Bruins in the 2016-2017 season. When Carlo debuted with the Bruins, he was originally paired with veteran Zdeno Chara. After the 2016-2017 season wrapped up, Carlo was moved to play with defender Tory Krug. When both Krug and Chara left after the 2019-2020 season, Carlo was paired with Matt Grzelcyk as the team looked for a new solution.
In the 2020-2021 season, Carlo had one of his worst seasons in the major league. During the season, Carlo sustained two concussions and a series of other minor injuries causing him to play only 27 games. So far in the 2022-2023 season, Carlo has only missed four games, but it was due to his fifth concussion in the past six seasons. Not to mention in the 2021-2022 season, Carlo signed a six-year extension with the Bruins, which raises some concerns. While Carlo is a good addition to our team, having a long-term contract with someone who has sustained that much head trauma in the past few seasons is a concern.
Carlo started this season switching between being paired with Grzelcyk and Derek Forbort. As the season has gone on, head coach Jim Montgomery has placed Carlo and Hampus Lindholm together. This season Carlo has scored one goal and six assists and has a plus/minus of 18. He also has 79 hits and 59 blocked shots this season. Carlo is the type of second-line defender who shuts the other team down. He races to every puck in the defensive zone and has a strong physical presence. While Carlo has sustained six concussions, five of the six were because he was trying to ward off the forecheck.
Since Carlo has such a strong physical defensive presence, he and Lindholm being paired up together works. Lindholm has been a fireball all season long, and while Lindholm is a physical defender, he is also great on offense. Since Lindholm is great on offense, it makes sense to pair him with someone who lacks that talent. Carlo lacking offensive talent means that he doesn’t see much time on the ice during power plays, but he almost always is on the ice during a penalty kill.
Carlo has the second most short-handed time this season of all the Bruins defenders with an average of 3:14. The only player who has more short-handed time than Carlo is Forbort with 3:16. When Carlo is fully healthy, he is an extremely important aspect of the team. With Carlo sticking around for the next five years, the Bruins hope that Carlo stays healthy for the majority of that time.