BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins have to wait a few more days for the puck to drop on their postseason. A few extra days is nothing for Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo.
The Bruins have now made the playoffs in each of the 22-year-old’s three NHL seasons, but he hasn’t been able to partake in any of the fun. Carlo suffered late-season injuries in each of the last two years, causing him to watch the postseason from the stands. Two years ago, it was a concussion he suffered on the final day of his rookie season that forced him to miss the playoffs. Last year, with just eight games to go before the playoffs, he tried to kick a puck but got his skate stuck in the ice, causing a broken ankle. Once again, Carlo was forced to watch as his teammates battled for a Stanley Cup.
He soaked in Boston’s previous two postseasons with his mom by his side. While he loves his mother, Carlo would have much rather been playing hockey the last two Aprils.
“She talks too much during the games,” Carlo said with a smile Monday afternoon after the Bruins hit the ice for a practice session.
He doesn’t have to worry about that this year. Carlo made it through the end of the season unscathed, and is now gearing up for his first taste of playoff hockey when the Bruins open against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Boston on Thursday night.
“Obviously growing up, you watch this time of the year. It’s the most important time of the year,” Carlo said Monday. “To be in this position is the dream of every kid you can imagine. You emulate these games playing mini-hockey or street hockey, and it will be fun to finally be out there.”
Carlo knows that the playoffs are a different animal, but after a solid season on the Boston blue line, he looks ready to take his game to the next level.
“From watching it, you can tell the atmosphere is pretty electric and the crowd gets a little louder,” he said of postseason hockey. “I think the game speeds up to another level; hopefully I can keep up.
“I just don’t want to overwhelm myself. I feel like I had a pretty solid year and stayed consistent throughout that, and I want to continue that play coming into the playoffs. I want to do my job, ultimately, and do everything I can to help the team in the ways that I can,” he said. “I think I understand the player that I am more so at this point, and I want to bring that to the game and contribute.”
After spending his rookie season in Boston’s top defensive pairing with Zdeno Chara as a rookie, Carlo was moved to the second line with Torey Krug last season with mixed results. The duo seemed much more comfortable together throughout the 2018-19 season, and Carlo finished the year as a plus-22, tied with Chara for the best plus/minus among Boston defenders.
The Bruins will now take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, a battle between one of the NHL’s best offenses against one of the NHL’s best defenses. Carlo and the rest of Boston’s blue liners are ready for the challenge of slowing down John Tavares, Auston Matthews and the rest of the Leafs offensive attack.
“It’s no secret that they have a great offensive team, but you can say the same about the defensive group here — and the offensive group,” said Carlo. “As long as we do our job, we’ll be in a good position to give ourselves the best opportunity at success.”