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.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading. while readying for the last home game of the preseason tonight. Boy that went by quickly.
*Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is looking for the right mix on the fourth line for the Hawks.
*The NHL is coming late to the China party and it makes one wonder what will happen for the Winter Olympic Games set to be played there in 2022.
*PHT writer Adam Gretz has the Arizona Coyotes wanting to retire the freshly-retired Shane Doan’s number in the future.
*Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan says that the decision to accept the White House’s invitation was independent of politics. Certainly, it was, but the timing of it and the feeble statement to go along with it left a lot to be desired.
*Pierre Lebrun goes 1-on-1 with Montreal Canadiens coach Claude Julien to talk about his past, his present and his future behind the bench with the Habs. I had always intended to subscribe to the Athletic, and this is the article that finally got me to do it as I get to read a few moments with one of the classiest individuals in the NHL in Julien. It certainly had a few rocky moments toward the end here in Boston for Julien, but I will always respect that guy as a coach and, more importantly, as a person.
*For something completely different: an interesting look at Alejandro Villanueva, the only Pittsburgh Steelers player, and a proud veteran, to stand outside the tunnel and on the field for the national anthem prior to the Steelers game on Sunday.
BRIGHTON, Mass – Zdeno Chara is one of the oldest players in the NHL at 40 and sometimes those players need a little more time to rest and recharge than the up-and-coming skaters half their age in training camp. That’s the case with Chara as he sat out practice on Monday feeling “under the weather” according to the Bruins. He didn’t skate on Sunday either and won’t play against the Chicago Blackhawks in Boston’s final home game of the preseason tonight.
Similarly, Kenny Agostino won’t be playing tonight after he suffered an upper-body injury in a victory last week over the Flyers, where the winger also scored the winning goal in overtime. Instead, a couple of young players will get further looks as Matt Grzelcyk is expected to be paired with Brandon Carlo and young Ryan Fitzgerald will get another look in the spot where a healthy Agostino might have drawn back into the lineup on Monday.
“We’re looking for [the young guys] to keep pushing, consistency and be strong on pucks as the lineups get stronger,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “We’re getting closer to NHL lineups with most teams like us and paring down, in general. The expectation is that they’ll see that 82 times. Fitzy has been a nice surprise. I shouldn’t say surprise because I didn’t know a lot about him. But he’s done what we’ve asked, so we’ll give him another game. The Agostino injury has opened up a door as he was probably a guy that would have gone back in after [Thursday] night, has played well and is another guy we don’t know a lot about. So it’s a good opportunity for [Fitzgerald]. I thought he was ahead of some of the other [young] guys, so that’s why we put him back in.”
Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings tonight with just two more exhibition games to go before the regular season gets started: