CHICAGO — Brandon Carlo missed out on the playoffs in 2017 and ‘18, his rookie and sophomore NHL seasons, because of late-season injuries that proved to be end-of-season exits for the 6-foot-6-inch Bruins defenseman.
In ‘17, Alex Ovechkin punched Carlo’s ticket to the sidelines in the final game of the regular season with a stiff check that rattled Carlo’s head against the glass. He was still nursing concussion symptoms in the days following the Bruins’ first-round exit to the Senators.
The following March, an awkward tumble left Carlo with a fractured ankle, and he was still getting around with the aid of a medical scooter when the Lightning gave the Bruins the heave-ho in Round 2.
Carlo’s ghosts of playoffs past briefly swept through Little Caesars Arena in Detroit Sunday when he slid along the ice and careened headfirst into the rear wall in the opening moments of what became a 5-3 loss to the Red Wings. Looking dazed and in considerable pain, Carlo managed to get on his feet and slowly skate across the ice, hunkered over, to make his way to the dressing room.
“I was afraid it might be a shoulder, or neck, or head,” noted coach Jim Montgomery before the club flew to Chicago for Tuesday night’s date with the hollowed-out Blackhawks. ”Thankfully, he was all right.”
Carlo quickly returned to game action and finished the day with 17:01 in ice time, including 3:00 on the penalty kill. He normally logs just under 19:00 in ice time.
Uncharacteristically, Carlo was on the ice, alongside PK partner Derek Forbort, for two Detroit power-play goals — the first time since Dec. 17 that the Bruins, the league’s best in kills, gave up more than one while shorthanded.
A Globe reporter made two requests with the club’s PR staff to speak with Carlo postgame, both of which were denied.
Among the potential concerns with Carlo is the risk of concussion. He suffered at least the fifth concussion of his career this season, against the Coyotes Oct. 15, and did not return to the lineup until Oct. 25.
The Bruins did not practice here Monday and, per usual, no team personnel were made available to the media. They are scheduled to hold their usual morning-of-game workout Tuesday at the United Center.
Defenseman Hampus Lindholm was a lineup scratch in Detroit after waking up in the morning with a swollen ankle, the cost of blocking a shot in Saturday’s win over the Winged Wheels. Montgomery said Lindholm, who leads all Boston backliners with eight goals, will be in the lineup vs. Chicago.
If both Lindholm and Carlo were to need the night off, Montgomery still has the all-but-forgotten Jakub Zboril to fill out the defensive six-pack.
Impressed by Jake DeBrusk’s work after he was moved to a new line with Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic, Montgomery might keep that trio intact at least to start the night in Chicago.
“The Coyle line is the line that jumped out,” said Montgomery. “JD really took off, and I think he was a man possessed out there. I thought he led our pushback into the game.”
DeBrusk’s goal trimmed the Wings’ lead to 4-2 in the third. Keep in mind: DeBrusk, normally on the No. 1 line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, lines up at right wing, his “off” side when riding with those guys. His move to the Coyle line had him back at his natural left wing.
His goal in Detroit brought DeBrusk to the 20-goal plateau for the third time in his career. With 17 games to go in the regular season, he was asked if he felt he still had enough runway to reach 30.
“Uh, yeah,” he said with a chuckle. “I think it would be bad for my mental side if I said no.”
Offense from defense
Matt Grzelcyk potted the Bruins’ first goal Sunday, the 34th strike this season by a Bruins defenseman. Collectively, through 65 games, they’ve delivered a 34-129—163 line, already 13 points more than they cobbled together across the full 82 last season … Pastrnak’s game has not been at its best of late, but he still has popped for 4-4—8 over the last five games. As of Monday morning, he still held the league lead (307) in shots on net, and should shatter the career mark of 312 he set in 72 games last year … Taylor Hall (lower body) was scheduled to practice Monday on his own in Boston. Hall said Thursday that he eagerly looked forward to the Monday workout. If all goes as planned, he should be eligible to return to the lineup next Tuesday vs. the Senators at the Garden … Down on the farm, reserve forward Vinni Lettieri rolled up a first-period hat trick, and finished 3-2—5, in Providence’s 5-3 win Sunday over Hershey … The Bruins will face the Blackhawks for the first time since Chicago dealt Patrick Kane, one of its Stanley Cup cornerstones, to the Rangers. Kane has gone a pedestrian 2-1—3 in his five games with the Blueshirts.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.