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2021 Player Ratings: For Brandon Carlo, a solid season in spite of injuries

It was tough sledding for Carlo.

NHL: Boston Bruins at New York Rangers Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

SCOC Rating: 7.3

Reader Rating: 7.6

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before — it was a tough year healthwise for Brandon Carlo.

It’s been a running theme for Carlo, starting with his rookie season.

In a cruel twist of irony, Carlo featured in all 82 games that season, only to be concussed in Game 82 and miss the playoffs.

The next season, Carlo played 76 regular season games before a fractured ankle in the last weeks of the season caused him to (once again) miss the playoffs.

(When Carlo finally got a chance to play in the playoffs, the Bruins went to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final...THE CARLO EFFECT.)

This past season, it was another injury to Carlo that effectively torpedoed any chance the Bruins had of going back to the Stanley Cup Final in 2021, illustrating how important Carlo has become to the team.

Prior to that, Carlo continued to be what we’ve come to expect of him: a defensive defenseman who is reliable at 5v5 and stout on the PK.

Interestingly, Carlo, who isn’t exactly known as an offensive powerhouse, scored goals at the most prolific pace of his career last season, averaging one goal every nine games.

The 2022 Rocket Richard Trophy is not out of the question.

Ultimately, the Bruins aren’t really asking Carlo to be a scorer or elite puck-mover — they’re asking him to be a strong second-pair defender, and he did that this season.

Carlo posted the best even-strength CF% of his career at 56.6%, and also had the least offensive zone starts (at 5v5) since his rookie season (50.2%).

Overall, the best illustration of Carlo’s worth to the Bruins was the team’s performance without him in the Islanders series.

  • Two full games with Carlo in the lineup: 3.0 goals against per game
  • Three full games without Carlo in the lineup: 5.0 goals against per game

Not all of that can be attributed to the Carlo Factor, as score effects certainly came into play later in Games 5 and 6.

Still, it’s not a coincidence that the Bruins’ defense suffered mightily without Carlo in the mix — some of that is due to the team already being shorthanded, and some of it is due to the team not having anyone who can equal his defensive prowess.

If you were to point to weaknesses in Carlo’s game, the offensive side of things could be a legitimate complaint.

However, that showed signs of changing slightly last season — his three goals were helped by a career-high shooting percentage, but he also attempted shots at a rate of 3.33 per game, above his career average.

We all know that Carlo isn’t likely to blossom into an offensive dynamo, however, so any offense he contributes can be considered icing on the cake.

The big question for Carlo heading into next season: can he stay healthy?

The Bruins committed to Carlo for six more years this offseason, and if he can regularly play 75+ games per season at his current level, it’s a great deal for the B’s.

Unfortunately, it’s a big “if.”

Carlo suffered at least two concussions this season, and we all know that having a concussion often makes players prone to having another.

Given that the Bruins aren’t exactly flush with effective replacements for Carlo (as we saw a couple months back), it’s a worrying thought.

But what can you do?

Carlo has come a long way since his rookie season, developing into the reliable stay-at-home guy the Bruins hoped he’d be.

Here’s to hoping that he can avoid the injury bug this season...maybe we’ll see a return to the Final!

The Carlo Effect 2.0.