BOSTON -- Claude Julien didn’t want to get into it following another disappointing loss, but it’s pretty apparent Brandon Carlo has smacked into the NHL rookie wall.
Carlo was on the ice for each of the damaging two goals scored against the Bruins in the opening seconds of the first and third periods, and in both cases couldn’t do enough to shut off Edmonton players attacking the net in the 4-2 loss for the Bruins at TD Garden. In both instances it looked like the share speed of the Oilers attack put Carlo on his heels a little bit, and created defensive vulnerabilities in front of the net.
There have been more instances of that in the last month for the 20-year-old Carlo as the heaviness of the NHL regular season schedule makes an impact on a young player, and the size and strength of opponents he’s constantly battling begins to make an impact as well.
Carlo has been a minus-10 over his last 15 games dating back to a rough night in Washington against the Capitals on Dec. 7, and said there are times when he feels like it’s been a bit of an uphill battle for him lately.
“Occasionally. I feel like pucks definitely aren’t bouncing my way as much as they were in the beginning of the year,” said Carlo, who was down to 16 minutes of ice time in the Thursday night loss to a fast, skilled Oilers bunch. “But that’s something that I just need to continue with, keeping it simple and moving the puck. I’m just trying to keep my gaps up and go through every game and know that I worked my hardest out there.
“[The Oilers] are a fast team. Coming right out of the gate, they were really fast that first shift. I felt like I wasn’t in terrible position, but unfortunately I didn’t get my stick on that one.”
It’s not exactly shocking that a young player in a prime shutdown pairing position would hit a rough patch in his rookie season, and it’s something the Bruins must have expected at some point as the dog days of the NHL regular season schedule approached. But it doesn’t make it any easier for a Black and Gold club desperate for wins and points while relying on Carlo to keep playing the rock-solid, poised game that he’s already shown he’s capable of doing at the NHL level.