Like any smart person, I adopted a “wait and see” policy on any rookie coming into the current lineup for the Boston Bruins this year.
It made sense. Many fans were on-edge about who and why some got in the lineup and some didn’t, and mostly had nothing but looking at lineups provided by the team and by looking at how Dailyfaceoff.com set the team up, and occasionally refreshing to see what changed. There was a lot to cover. The defense was in relative shambles, a whole host of new faces made up the depth of scoring, and plenty of consternation was being had over the goaltending’s plight.
Thankfully, the early season jitters were quelled by some fairly convincing wins and fun games and performances by some of the rookies stepping up in surprising ways. One such performance that has been an on-going positive in this early season is one Brandon Carlo of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Picked in the second round in 2015, Carlo’s workman-like skating, large frame, and well-rounded WHL experience combined to make a solid camp, and even more solid performance on Boston’s main roster. He does not necessarily do one part of the defensive game well over all the others, but instead keeps a steady, strong performance that allows the Bruins to get out of their own zone and sometimes asks him to play better than .
Carlo of course, has not been lighting the universe up with his scoring, but that’s not really what he’s paid to do. Carlo has managed to be a mobile, positionally sound defensive threat that keeps shots low-danger, gets the Bruins playing in the right direction (away from Rask), and has also been able to play some of the hardest minutes the Bruins can ask of him on defense, and has been a welcome partner to everyone’s favorite Dark Souls giant: Zdeno Chara.
Chara is 39, has over 70-something games left on his contract, and is still taking some of the most brutal minutes Boston can throw at him. Most things project that there needs to be somebody to take the throne of King Minute-eater Supreme if the Bruins are looking to continue their winning ways, and Carlo, while still a bit rough around the edges, appears to only be getting better at adapting to these difficult minutes as time goes on.
In fact, he’s often able to use his impressive skating to sometimes bail the old man out every once in awhile (something I’m sure he’s said once and exactly once because Zdeno Chara up close is unsettling and him even slightly annoyed with you is probably a very teaching moment in how willing you are to come close to your belief in god), which is always nice for a player who seemed very overworked in the past year or two.
The most encouraging aspect? Is that in spite of all the incredible minutes and tough situations Carlo has had to put up with, he’s kept pace. He’s done more, he’s kept solid. Even in the most recent of days where Chara’s age and scars catch up with him, Carlo has met each shift with the same level of skill and diligence as any other. Other rookies have tried and have often had their naivete, inexperience, or plain lack of ability on taking this responsibility
Does this mean he is the future number one defenseman we all crave? Maybe, it might be a little too early to tell for right now, but he certainly seems to be growing into something resembling the role. He’ll need more seasoning, of course, but from the way things look right now? He gives the greatest gift one can give in this holiday season: Hope.
Hope that one can look at the Bruins defense and instead of getting weak at the knees and have their stomach distend on them, they can look at it and go “Y’know? There’s something here.”
And that’s a gift that has a long use. I for one look forward to seeing him again on Tuesday night against Philadelphia to see where his development leads.