NEW YORK — After seeing how quickly Patrice Bergeron returned from taking a puck to the face Wednesday night, the guessing game over Brandon Carlo’s foot injury in Manhattan Thursday should carry the requisite asterisk:
*out at least until Saturday’s workout in Brighton.
Carlo, struck by a Ranger slapshot early in the second period, was not seen again after hobbling to the dressing room only 22:14 into what ended as a 3-1 win.
A dime-store doctor worth his/her degree might surmise that Carlo incurred a bone fracture, or severe bruise, on the outside of his right foot. That unofficial diagnosis is based on force of shot, point of impact, and how quickly he made his way stage right on Broadway.
Typically, players have an educated sense of when stinging shots need but a minute or two to quiet down, and usually wince their way through the pain cycle, jaw clenched, on the bench. But a grimacing Carlo skipped right by the bench, hopscotched his way to the room with help from the training staff, and, most telling, didn’t so much as return during a break in the action to take a test twirl.
The Bruins, winners of four straight, took Friday off and released no update on Carlo’s condition. They’ll return to their Warrior workout facility Saturday morning and reveal what the real docs have to say.
“We’re going to be careful, right?” coach Jim Montgomery said. “We’ve got a real good extra defenseman in [Jakub] Zboril, and if [Carlo] isn’t ready to go Sunday, we’ve got the luxury of getting Zboril into games.”
Carlo is no stranger to the injured list, including a fractured left ankle in April 2018 that put him out of that year’s postseason. He also has missed time because of a concussion.
Zboril, 25, has been somewhat of a lost soul on the roster, particularly after Charlie McAvoy returned to the lineup Nov. 9 after offseason shoulder surgery. Montgomery has chosen most nights to roll out the same six D-men, leaving Zboril in the No. 7 spot. He has suited up for only 14 games all season, only two since Nov. 13.
Carlo is a right stick and Zboril a left. If Carlo is out of the mix for a while, then Zboril might end up on his off side, likely riding with Derek Forbort on the No. 3 pairing. Connor Clifton, who potted the 3-0 lead at Madison Square Garden, most likely would fill Carlo’s No. 2 spot alongside Hampus Lindholm.
Setting an example
Bergeron sailed through his return performance and scored the night’s second goal. Aside from the small mark aside his nose, toward his cheekbone, it was all but impossible to tell how close he had come to serious injury when struck by a deflected David Pastrnak slapper the night before.
“It was more making sure everything was fine,” said the captain, reflecting on his preparation ahead of puck drop, “depending on the swelling, how it was going to feel. I was hoping it was going to stay manageable, and it did. No issues for me on the ice.”
Pastrnak, who learned postgame that he had been added to the roster for the upcoming NHL All-Star Game, noted the impact Bergeron’s quick return had up and down the roster, particularly on younger players.
“These are the guys that built something big in this organization,” Pastrnak said, noting the legendary toughness of ex-captain Zdeno Chara and Bergeron, who was quick to return from a punctured lung in the thick of the 2013 Cup Final vs. Chicago.
Playing through injury is just part of the job.
“You are never going to be 100 percent for the whole year,” added Pastrnak. “This is one of the toughest leagues in the world, and it’s definitely one of the things the younger kids, see, right?
“Those guys playing through these injuries, you’re definitely not going to pull out of the game with a sore groin or something when you see guys play through that.”
The road ahead
The Sharks will be at the Garden Sunday night, the final home game of the month. With upcoming road stops in Montreal, Tampa, Florida, Carolina, and Toronto, the Bruins aren’t back in their cozy Causeway confines until a Feb. 11 matinee with the Capitals … Now 12-1-1 in their seven back-to-back couplets, the Bruins face the eighth next weekend with stops in Sunrise (Saturday) and Raleigh (Sunday) ... The Bruins carried a 2-0 lead into the third period vs. the Rangers. They are 25-0-1 when leading after 40:00 …. Through 45 games, the Bruins have amassed 1,263:10 in lead time, while trailing only 550:28 … With 76 points in the bank and 37 games to go, the Bruins have a shot at setting the NHL mark for fewest games played to reach the 100-point plateau. The 1976-77 Canadiens hold the mark, going 45-7-10 (100 points) across their first 62 games. To break that mark, the Bruins would need to pile up 24 points in their next 16 games, a .750 clip. Thus far, they’ve delivered at a league-best .844.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.