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. 

Morning Skate: Best all-time college hockey lineups

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Best all-time college hockey lineups

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while welcoming in spring with open arms.


*Interesting exercise from ESPN putting together the best all-time lineups for a number of college hockey programs. We know about a lot of the powerhouse programs, but UVM could put together a pretty damn good lineup based on the players that have come out of the Catamounts program, including former and current Bruins Tim Thomas and Kevan Miller.


*Jack Eichel scoffs at the notion that his ankle injury should have caused the Sabres star to shut it down for the rest of the season.


*Nice work by Star Wars Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni to put together a Star Wars jersey again this season for the Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins.


*Rob Rossi has got some major issues with ESPN the Magazine omitting Sidney Crosby from their Most Dominant Athletes of the last 20 years list. Yeah, I’d say that doesn’t make any sense. Not that anybody really cares about ESPN the Magazine or anything.


*Strange times with the CWHL as Cassie Campbell Pascal has resigned from her role as a CWHL Governor ahead of the league’s marquee weekend.


*The Golden Knights and Marc-Andre Fleury are both tied together in their rise toward the top of the NHL this season.


*For something completely different: Never before has a mustache been talked about as much as the CGI mustache for Henry Cavill in Justice League, and now it’s gone forever.


Donato misses Bruins practice for Harvard class commitment

Donato misses Bruins practice for Harvard class commitment

It might have caused a ripple when Ryan Donato wasn’t on the ice on Tuesday afternoon in St. Louis for Bruins practice on the day after his brilliant, three-point NHL debut for the Black and Gold. But the 21-year-old Donato was still back in the Boston area fulfilling some class requirements at Harvard University to help him close out the current semester properly, and not lose the credits that will keep him in line with fulfilling his junior year at Harvard University.

Believe it or not, the schoolwork is important to the newest member of the Boston Bruins and he intends to study and hit the books on his road trips, and also intends to take classes in the summertime to still graduate on time next season.

“I’m planning on finishing the semester academically. I want to finish the semester academically,” said Donato, after Monday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena prior to last night’s debut vs. Columbus. “Obviously it’s going to be something that’s difficult, but for me it was a dream to graduate from Harvard. I’m putting that off a little bit, but I need to be able to finish this semester in order to have that opportunity, and not put it off for another couple of years. I want to finish out the semester.”

Donato is also still living in the Harvard dorms while “moonlighting” as an NHL hockey player for the rest of the season, but that isn’t all so uncommon among some of the college players that leave school early. Charlie McAvoy was similarly living in the Boston University dorms last spring through Boston’s playoff run, and didn’t clear out of his college living situation until after the Black and Gold had been eliminated by the Ottawa Senators last April.

Missing practices on an NHL schedule is certainly a new one with, Donato, however, and takes the student-athlete concept to a whole new level for somebody that's already turned pro. One has to expect this was one of the things being discussed in full when the Donato family, Ryan's agent and the Bruins discussed his contract terms over the weekend before coming to an agreement.

Along with Donato, who is scheduled to fly into St. Louis and play against the Blues on Wednesday night, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, David Backes, Jake DeBrusk, Rick Nash and Torey Krug were all missing from the ice at Tuesday’s team practice ahead of a four game road trip against Western Conference opponents.