(Photo Credit: Claus Andrson/GettyImages)

By: Andrew Bluestein | Follow Me On X (Formerly Twitter) @adbblue

The Boston Bruins recently placed Derek Forbort on LTIR, and he is not eligible to return until December 31st. Forbort is arguably the team’s top penalty-killing defenseman, leading all players in shorthanded time on ice per game with 3:34.

Thursday afternoon, it was announced that Charlie McAvoy was placed on injured reserve. Typically, a player put on IR has to miss seven days; however, McAvoy has already technically missed the required time because it’s been seven days since the day after he was injured. This means he’s eligible to return tonight against the New York Islanders, but it’s highly unlikely, as he did not practice this morning, according to Fluto Shinzawa of The Atheltic.

With the absence of two of their regular defensemen, McAvoy being their best, the Bruins will need guys to take things to another level. Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Carlo are the next two guys in line to step up and make an impact on the Bruins’ back end.

Hampus Lindholm

Although Lindholm hasn’t had nearly the point production he had last season, he’s been playing a different role this year. The 6’4 left-shot defenseman has one goal and six assists for seven points in 27 games and is a +6. Although his offensive contributions have dropped, he still plays a huge role defensively and positionally for the Bruins. He’s currently second on the team in time on ice per game, averaging 23:44

Lindholm is a huge part of what the Bruins do structurally and is an enormous part of their breakout game. He has very good vision with the puck on his stick and is right behind McAvoy when it comes to puck moving. He makes a lot of passes that lead to opportunities and goals that don’t show up on the scoresheet. 

Furthermore, Lindholm is a great puck protector, consistently winning puck battles in the defensive zone. He is also strong positionally when defending and has 32 blocked shots this season, which is fourth on the team. Lindholm rarely gets beat in transition, as he’s fast for his size and does a great job of keeping opponents to the outside. 

The Helsingborg, Sweden native also plays a large role on both special teams’ units. He’s averaging 1:31 of power play time on ice per game, and his lone goal this season came on the man advantage. On the penalty kill, he averages 2:31 of time on ice per game, which is fourth on the team. 

With McAvoy possibly out another few games, this is a great opportunity for Lindholm to take his play to the next level. He has the attributes to play the same role as McAvoy and be a dominant player in all phases of the game, as he’s done before.

Brandon Carlo

Carlo has arguably been the most consistent player for the Bruins this season and is playing the best hockey of his career. He doesn’t play the noisiest style of hockey, but he almost always seems to make the right play. His defensive zone contributions have been elite this season, making numerous huge defensive plays.

This season, Carlo is third on the team in time on ice per game, averaging 20:25 a night, and plays a huge role in matching up with opponents. The Colorado native also plays a huge role on the penalty kill, averaging 3:30 of shorthanded time on ice per game. That is second on the team. He is never afraid to jump in front of a shooter and leads the team in blocked shots with 51. His net-front positioning is also outstanding, and he does a great job at clearing out the crease and loose pucks. That is possibly his strongest attribute.

Point production has never been a strong suit for the 27-year-old defenseman, as he has one goal and five assists for six points this season. However, it’s very clear that his offensive awareness has improved immensely. He makes tremendous decisions in the offensive zone, especially pinching down the boards, and he’s made several passes from the point, generating plenty of high-danger chances. 

Perhaps the biggest impact Carlo has had this season, aside from his strong defensive play, is his leadership. This is the former Bruins 2015 second-round pick’s eighth season with the Black and Gold, and he’s become one of the most respected guys in the dressing room.

Although he isn’t a regular alternate captain, he has worn the A a few times in the last couple of seasons. Having played on the back end with a guy like Zedano Chara for four seasons, he’s learned to be a leader for other younger players on the team. 

Carlo has had a stellar season so far, and there’s not much to complain about his play at all. But now, with McAvoy and Forbort on the shelf, Carlo’s responsibilities have become much heavier on the blue line. It’s a great opportunity for him to step up to another level, especially on the penalty kill, and as a voice both on and off the ice.