By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Bruins have plenty of young defensive prospects who could be legitimate top-four options in a few years, but they need help on the blue line now. Fortunately, they may already be getting it in the form of Brandon Carlo.
Though still just 19 years old, Carlo looks like the kind of defenseman the Bruins need right now: someone who actually plays defense. Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy called Carlo “arguably our best D, if not our best D” after the game, and although it’s just the preseason the kid has to give you some hope with the way he played.
The Columbus Blue Jackets eventually won the game 3-2 in a shootout, but Carlo helped keep the game from getting out of hand. Most impressive was his work in front of the net, even though he took a penalty that led to a Columbus power play goal in the second period. Carlo was called for interference after shoving an opponent to the ice in front of goalie Anton Khoudobin away from the puck.
Carlo will need to learn from that over-aggressive mistake to get more ice time at the NHL level and will probably play smarter around his own net with more development. But that kind of tenacity and physicality would be most welcome on a Bruins defense that looked too weak and passive around their own net for much of the 2015-16 season.
“He was coming hard to the net, so I just held him off a little bit and he gave me an extra shove,” Carlo said after the game. “And I’m not the guy who’s going to just sit there. I’ll probably give the shove back.”
The Bruins didn’t do enough shoving back last season, so adding Carlo to the lineup could at least add some size and toughness to a defensive corps that really needs it. Carlo even chipped in on offense, firing a snap-shot from the right point that Danton Heinen tipped in for a Bruins goal that tied the game in the third period.
The 19-year-old Carlo may still be far away from giving the kind of contributions he gave Monday night on a regular basis in meaningful NHL games, but his performance has to at least give hope for the future for a defense that right now looks no better on paper than it did a year ago.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.