With a postseason berth clinched, the Bruins are playing for seeding and with the hope that they can remain injury-free between now and the start of the playoffs.
But for defenseman Brandon Carlo, absent from all but three of the Bruins’ last 32 games after returning to the B’s lineup in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Devils on Tuesday, it’s about getting the necessary reps in before the games truly count.
And so far, so good for the 6-foot-5 defender.
“I felt pretty good,” Carlo, who finished with just under 21 minutes of action, said after his return. “I felt like I was seeing the ice pretty well. Depending on the partner I was out there with, moving the puck out of the zone pretty well. They were switching things around a little bit, and it was great to get touches and hear every guy’s voice on the ice. Felt like I was seeing the play well. Obviously there’s little things with just getting your foot speed back. That takes some time. Overall, I didn’t feel too far off.”
Out of action with a concussion and then an oblique injury, the Bruins’ medical staff didn’t want Carlo playing in back-to-backs out of the gate. (That’s why Carlo, who has been practicing in full with the Bruins for a good stretch here, didn’t appear in Monday’s win.) But the good news is that Carlo doesn’t see himself being on any sort of ‘load management’ schedule now that his return came without any issues.
“I think I would be good to go every night now,” Carlo offered. “It was just an injury that I needed to get under control. From there, there’s no load management. It was making sure as close to 100 percent as I could be to get back in the lineup, and I’m feeling good in that regard. Didn’t feel any discomfort tonight, so I hope to be in the lineup every night.”
As for his partner on Boston’s second pairing, Carlo found himself reunited with Matt Grzlecyk and introduced to Mike Reilly throughout the night, and sees a potential fit with either player.
“I think it’s great to play with both of those guys,” said Carlo. “Those are two guys that I can see myself pairing well with. They’re both great puck movers [and] I felt very comfortable with both of them.
“I’ve had a good comfort zone with [Grzelcyk], feel like our chemistry is good. With both those guys, I feel very comfortable going out on the ice with them at any given moment and going against any given line, I feel like we can succeed.”
The Bruins will have another four games to find that perfect fit with Carlo on their middle pairing.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.