Carlo: 'I was the Achilles heel with my mistakes'


Carlo: 'I was the Achilles heel with my mistakes'

BOSTON – It’s not often you hear a player take the blame for a loss squarely on their shoulders, but Saturday night was one of those times for Brandon Carlo. 

The 20-year-old defenseman called himself the “Achilles heel” for the Bruins in their 4-1 loss to the Maple Leafs at TD Garden that gave Toronto a sweep of their home-and-home series over the last couple of nights. It was perhaps a tad harsh given that hockey is a team game where many factors feed into any failed play, but there’s also no doubting that Carlo had arguably his worst game of the season in the defeat. 

There were brutal turnovers, ill-timed penalties and being in the wrong place at the wrong time in front of the Boston net, and it all added up to a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for Carlo. 

“I was kinda the Achilles heel tonight with my mistakes. If I didn’t make those we probably would be ahead in those areas. It’s unfortunate, but maybe next time we’ll get a good balance and my mistakes will be covered,” said Carlo. “I had a bad night. I don’t know really what to say about that. I just tried to make plays and they didn’t really work out. [They] ended up in the back of the net. Those things can’t really happen all the time.”

It all started with Carlo under pressure breaking the puck out in the first period, and instead he turned it over to Mitch Marner with an errant pass in the middle of the ice. Immediately Marner snapped a shot over Tuukka Rask’s shoulder for Toronto’s first goal of the night, and the beginning of Carlo’s tough night. 

Later in the first period Carlo was whistled for a hooking call, and immediately again the Leafs scored with a power play goal from James van Riemsdyk camped in front of the net. In the third period once again Morgan Rielly found Carlo in a tough spot, and fired a point shot just as Carlo was crossing in front of the net. The big Bruins D-man screened Rask on the shot, and then doubled down on the badness by redirecting the puck with his stick up and under the bar for Toronto’s insurance goal. 

Carlo finished with a minus-2 rating in 15:27 of ice time, and factored negatively in each of the first three goals allowed for the Bruins. Clearly it won’t be going on the Carlo Highlight Reel for this season, but Bruce Cassidy also indicated that his young player was also probably being a little too hard on himself. 

“He’s being a little hard on himself. He had a tough break on the third goal. I mean, he’s got to make a split second decision; they get pucks to the net, he needs to box out and it’s a flash screen, and those things happen. The first one he’s just off. It was the right idea; he just missed,” said Cassidy. “You don’t want to discourage guys from making plays, tape to tape breakouts. Now obviously you’ve got to manage the puck better as a team.

“It’s cost us a few games. So, there’s a fine line there. Brandon will bounce back. He’s a good kid, he cares, and he’ll continue to play hard. He’ll have to play himself out of it. It’s that simple, because he’s a good player for us.”

The bottom line for Carlo is that he’s got three assists and a plus-6 in 15 games this season, and Saturday night was his first minus game during the month of November. He’s been pretty good for most of this season, and he’s done it while branching out away from usual defense partner Zdeno Chara, and instead working mostly with Torey Krug. Now the challenge for Carlo will be to minimize any stretch of bad games or shaken confidence, and continue to show greater consistency to his game in his second full season at the NHL level.

It’s all part of the learning curve for another of the many young players Boston continues to bring along this season, and show patience in even as the expected inconsistency is beginning to cost them in the standings. 

A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence


A return "imminent" for McQuaid after two-month absence

BRIGHTON, Mass – It sounds like the toughness quotient might be going up quite a bit higher for the Bruins in the near future.

Adam McQuaid may be cleared to play as soon as Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, or at least later on in the week if it doesn’t happen against the rough-and-tumble, Metro Division Blue Jackets. The 6-foot-5 hard-nosed defender has been out for nearly two months with a broken right fibula, but has been back skating with the Bruins for a couple of weeks.

“I don’t know if Monday he’ll be cleared, but he’s getting close. He’s practicing with us, so it’s imminent for him. I just don’t want to pinpoint an exact day,” said Cassidy of McQuaid, who was one of a handful of players along with Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Frank Vatrano, Paul Postma and Anton Khudobin that skated on Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena.

There certainly may be some rust in McQuaid’s game after missing the last 24 cgames dating back to the Oct. 19 injury. Ddding another tough customer and D-zone warrior certainly won't hurt the Bruins. In the short term, the presence of McQuaid could protect some of B's top players like Brad Marchand who has received some questionable hits over the last couple of months. In the long term his presence adds more size, strength and toughness in the defensive zone.

In terms of pairings it would be logical to swing Kevan Miller back over to the left side, and potentially pull rookie puck-mover Matt Grzelcyk out of the lineup once McQuaid is ready to play. But Bruce Cassidy indicated it won’t be that simple, and there may be times when the Bruins roll seven defensemen given their strength in numbers once McQuaid comes back.

“If you take the last guy in, Grzelcyk, [out of the lineup] then you’re back to your four righty [defensemen]. We had mixed levels of success with that, and then it’s a matter of who on the right Is going to come out if he stick with the three lefties,” said Cassidy. “That’s an internal discussion that we’ve already started to have. He will definitely help the penalty kill. It could be a different lineup every night where we go with six D one night, and then go with seven D the next night. It will create good competition.”

McQuaid wants to temper the excitement now that he’s on the verge of a return, and is simply putting in work until he’s given the green light to play. The busy NHL schedule and the lack of quality practice time isn't the perfect scenario for the 31-year-old defenseman to return, so it’s simply a matter of doing what’s best for player and team.

“I’d like to get back as soon as I can obviously. I’ve missed a lot of time, but it’s a process. I just try to approach it like I’m not getting my hopes up too much,” said McQuaid, who had an assist and a minus-3 in the six games he did appear in. “We’ll have a better idea tomorrow. The more and more game-like situations you get in [can help].

“We haven’t gone too far down the road so I don’t know exactly [when I’ll return]. I’m just out there trying to get closer, but I’m excited about where I’m at and the possibility of moving forward. It’s been fun watching the guys, but I can’t wait to get back in there and be part of a winning hockey team again.”


Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now


Morning Skate: Senators kind of a mess right now

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while I still remain pretty conflicted about my thoughts on the Last Jedi. See yesterday’s morning skate for the full review.

*Happy Holidays from the Boston Bruins, who all wore spiffy Christmas-inspired suits into TD Garden for Saturday night’s game against the Rangers. The clear winners are Christmas Elf Brad Marchand and bedazzled Patrice Bergeron, but everybody is a winner when they’re in the holiday spirit.

*Here’s a blueprint for all 31 NHL teams to get an outdoor game next season if you’re really looking to run the concept into the ground.

*Everybody loves a goalie fight, and the Providence Bruins had one last night even if it was more like slightly angry hugging than actual fighting.

*This quick snippet from an Ottawa Senators radio broadcast this weekend is one of the oddest things I’ve heard in a while. No idea what took them down that path.

*Speaking of the Senators, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says he has no idea why the Sens are having such big attendance problems at their arena. I can think of one reason: location, location and location.

*Larry Brooks goes over the Sean Avery memoir just in time for Christmas for all those looking for a stocking stuffer, or just looking for the perfect gift for that hockey rat in your life.

*Hacksaw Jim Duggan dropping the puck for a minor league hockey game is definitely something to brag about. Ho!

*For something completely different: 20 years later, the crazy story of how the blockbuster Titanic ultimately got made.