DERIK HAMILTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
NASHVILLE — Brandon Carlo probably has more to give on the offensive side of the puck. For now, though, the second-year Bruins’ backliner has that “defensive defenseman” label dangling from his elbow, and that’s not such a bad thing in his line of work.
After all, defensemen are meant to play defense.
“I found out that was the foundation of my game,” Carlo said here Sunday, thinking back to his junior days, when his most effective role on the ice began to crystallize. “That’s what I prided myself on in games, so I kind of just took it and ran with it. I can’t feel upset about it, because it’s led me to this point, but there is always the situation where you can continue to grow, and I am going to work on that with my offense.”
Carlo, who turned 21 last month, on Saturday logged a beefy 25:41 in ice time, second only to team captain Zdeno Chara (27:03), in a 3-0 win at Philadelphia. Carlo’s time log was heavy, in part, because the Flyers spent 10:57 of the afternoon on the power play. With Carlo a fixture on the No. 1 PK unit with Chara, he registered 8:34 shorthanded time.
Nonetheless, the Bruins would like to see more offensive pop from the 6-foot-5-inch sophomore. In his rookie season, Carlo occasionally flashed daring offensive chances, his excellent skating speed allowing him to make those forays and finish the season with a line of 6-10—16.
Coach Bruce Cassidy believes that part of Carlo’s game will evolve.
“He’s never going to be what you’d call a high-end offensive defenseman,” said Cassidy, with Carlo owning a modest 0-4—4 line through 24 games. “He’s not on our power play, so that won’t allow him to get a lot of points. But I think there is some secondary offense we can get out of him.”
To get there, Carlo will have to be more mobile at the blue line when the puck is on his stick. He won’t be one to “walk” the blue line with, say, Torey Krug’s speed and agility. But with more confidence and prodding from the coaching staff, he can fake slappers or passes, in hopes of a shooting lane opening up with a clear look to the net.
“There are times this year that arose when I had the chance to shoot,” he said. “It was there a little bit more [in Philly] as opposed to other nights. A couple of times it banged around in front of the net and slid right out to me. . . . Those are ones that make you lick your lips a little bit. Hopefully I can continue to do that.”
■ The win Saturday at Wells Fargo Center was Tuukka Rask’s first shutout of the season. The Finnish franchise stopper (5-8-0) will yield to backup Anton Khudobin Monday night against the Preds, but he went 2-1-0 in his three straight starts, with a 1.67 GAA and .940 save percentage.
“I still don’t want to deal with it, to be honest,” said the good-natured Khudobin, noting, like all backups, he would prefer to be the No. 1 stopper. “I knew it would happen. Am I happy with that? No, I want to play, but I knew that Tuukka would play more than me when he is healthy. So that is the bottom line. Did I know that situation would come? Yes.”
■ The Bruins, now 12-8-4, are on pace for a 96-point season, which would make them all but a lock for the postseason. Three weeks ago, with the Black-and-Gold fighting to get back to .500, some fans were preaching the club to tank the season.
■ Despite the recent revival tour, the Bruins have been mired in a 2-for-34 (5.9 pct.) drought on their power play. Cassidy said Friday that he isn’t ready to blow it up, but he needs to find a fix. The man-advantage is essential to playoff success.
■ Brad Marchand, 1-1—2 in Philly, was among many team members to take a day off from skating on Sunday. He was rattled by an Ivan Provorov shoulder-to-face smack early in Philly. He bounced back fine, but the Li’l Ball o’Hate has taken more abuse this season than all his seasons combined.
“I was down and put myself in a bad position,” Marchand said. “It was more I caught it in the face and didn’t feel very good. He didn’t jump [to make the hit] or anything like that. Things like that happen in hockey. You can’t hold grudges. It is a physical game. You are going to take hits like that. You are going to give hits like that. I don’t [think] that is a suspendable one; you know, it’s a good hit.”
■ Peter Laviolette’s Predators trimmed the Ducks, 3-2, in a shootout Saturday at Bridgestone. The Preds look fit for another trip to the Cup final.
■ Fun stat comparison of the day: Nashville’s top offensive D’man, P.K. Subban, will carry a line of 4-14—18 into Monday’s game. In 26 games, he has averaged .692 points per game and landed an average of 2.19 shots on net.
Boston’s top offensive D’man, Krug, will carry a line of 4-10—14 into Monday’s game. In 20 games, he has average .700 points per game and landed an average of 2.2 shots per game.
■ The Bruins’ scratches in Philly were Frank Vatrano, Matt Beleskey, and Paul Postma. If there’s a change (beyond injury factor), Postma might take Matt Grzelcyk’s spot on the D corps. Cassidy said he might make a change in the forward group for the game here.
■ Bet you’ve forgotten that the Bruins once traded prospects Mikko Lehtonen and Jeff Penner to Minnesota to acquire Khudobin. The date was Feb. 28, 2011. Lehtonen still plays in Europe but logged only two NHL games. Penner left hockey a few years ago and also logged only two NHL games. Originally, the Wild used the 206th pick in the 2004 entry draft to select Khudobin.
■ The country of Kazakhstan, where Khudobin was born, ranks No. 9 in the world in terms of land mass (1.05 million square miles). It’s a little less than one-third the size of the United States, with a population of just18 million (the aggregate of Wisconsin, Maryland, and Missouri). A lot of elbow room.
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