Brandon Carlo, last seen hopscotching and wincing his way to the dressing room Thursday night at Madison Square, rejoined his fellow blueliners Sunday night, amid what has been a golden goal rush for the Bruins.
Prior to blanking the Sharks, 4-0, at TD Garden for the last home game of the month, Black-and-Gold defensemen had scored five goals over the last four games. Then they added two more in the win.
That’s quite a bounty, considering the defensemen scored only 15 times in the previous 41 games. Carlo, with only one goal this season and 22 in his career, would be only too happy to indulge in the scoring wealth.
“I feel like I’ve had my fair share of good opportunities as well…” said Carlo, relieved that the shot he took off his right foot in Manhattan did not boot him to the sidelines, “... but I’m proud of our group and our defensive corps, what they’ve been able to accomplish on the offensive side of things, and hopefully I’ll get some of my cookies here soon.”
At first glance Thursday night, when Carlo hobbled off the ice in great pain prior to the 3:00 mark of the second period, the concern was he might have sustained a fractured bone on the right side of his foot when blocking a slapshot.
Afterward, coach Jim Montgomery mused that he might have to lean on spare blue liner Jakub Zboril to fill the void if the 6-foot-6-inch Carlo needed time to mend.
“For some reason, [a] nerve was just really affected,” Montgomery said Sunday morning, not specifying which nerve was traumatized. “It calmed down. He couldn’t put his foot back in the skate without it being painful.”
Prior to taking the ice at the Garden, Carlo said he was still experiencing pain when tugging on his skate, but not enough for the 26-year-old to miss his 445th game in Black and Gold.
Asked if he felt fortunate to escape relatively unscathed, given that a fracture could have sidelined him upward of six weeks or more, Carlo offered an emphatic, “Yes!”
“Absolutely,” he added. “When I was coming off the ice, the pain was very similar to what it was like when I did break my ankle a couple of years ago. Thankfully, X-rays came back and showed everything was good.”
Traumatized nerves in the upper body are commonly referred to as “stingers,” and though initially alarming, acute stinging typically abates in a matter of minutes to hours. The residual pain, though, can take days to subside.
“I don’t know, it must have hit some sort of nerve, or something like that,” continued Carlo. “Because it was similar to that breaking feeling. But, you know, waking up the next morning and doing the right things …. keeping ice on it to help the inflammation and whatnot … it’s still pretty painful in the boot, but I definitely feel capable of skating and being able to do my job.”
Carlo was in the opening lineup and added some spark with an uncharacteristic fight, going to toe-to-toe with Timo Meier only 27 seconds after the opening faceoff. He made it through the whole night unblemished, logging 16:53 in ice time.
As for cookies, they’ll have to wait. Carlo did not land a shot on net.
Sharks’ Erik Karlsson leads defensemen
Erik Karlsson, a rejuvenated and prolific Sharks defenseman, regularly tormented the Bruins during his days with the Ottawa Senators.
Karlsson, 32, tops all NHL defensemen in scoring this season — No. 1 in goals (15), assists (47) and points (62) in 47 games.
For some perspective, the Bruins top offensive defensemen, Hampus Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy, have a collective 10-50—60 line in their combined 79 games after a goal and assist for each Sunday.
Lindholm connected for the 1-0 lead 7:16 into the first period, his sixth goal this season and the sixth goal from the Bruins backliners over the last four-plus games.
“He’s not someone who really carries the puck like [Paul] Coffey,” said Montgomery, asked how Karlsson compares with some of the game’s great offensive defensemen. “He’s more like a surgeon. He’s going to dissect you with his ability to buy time, bring a couple of people to him … like a surgeon. You give him time, given how he holds the puck and freezes everybody in all three zones — especially the offensive zone — he is just waiting for sticks to move and then he throws it through seams.”
In the offensive zone, said Montgomery, Rangers blue liner Adam Fox, ex-of Harvard, shows poise and flashes moves much like Karlsson.
“The thing you notice is, they don’t stickhandle that much,” said Montgomery. “It’s kind of a push-pull …. as soon as they see something move, they can make a play.”
“And he can skate, deceptively fast. He throws you off … he has that [David] Krejci deception and he has the foot speed to go around you.”
Karlsson logged a game-high 25:06 in ice time and landed three shots on net. For all his time and presence, however, even he couldn’t make much impact on a night when the Bruins logged another 52:44 in lead time.
Across the five-game winning streak, the Bruins have held the lead for a cumulative 209:47 and trailed for a mere 25:33.
Jake DeBrusk to start skating
Post game, Montgomery said Jake DeBrusk will begin skating Monday, just as the Bruins make their way to Montreal to kick off a five-game road trip. DeBrusk has been off skates since suffering hand and leg injuries in in the Jan. 2 Winter Classic at Fenway Park. The Bruin have gone 8-1-0 in his absence…Montgomery said the club will call up a forward from AHL Providence for the five-game trip, though he did not know which forward. The best guess: ex-Boston College center Marc McLaughlin, who scored three times in his 11 games with the varsity last season. He can play both pivot and wing.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.