The Boston Bruins will have to get through at least one playoff game missing some significant size and strength on their back end.
Already down Kevan Miller after he took a big hit from Dmitry Orlov in the first round vs. Washington, the Bruins will also be missing Brandon Carlo (upper body) for Saturday night’s Game 4 against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. The 24-year-old shutdown defenseman and ace penalty killer was presumably concussed after absorbing a violent Cal Clutterbuck hit behind the Boston net in Game 3 where Carlo’s head appeared to slam into the glass.
Carlo looked dazed and wobbly immediately after the hit but felt good enough in the days afterward to already be riding the bike and doing off-ice workouts. Still, Carlo will be listed as “day-to-day” with the Bruins and won’t be close to playing until he’s able to resume practicing on the ice with his teammates.
“He’s on the bike today and he’s feeling better,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy of Carlo. “But until he’s on the ice obviously he’s not going to be able to play. We’ll see how he does, but he’s out tonight and we’ll see if he gets on the ice [on Sunday].”
It’s another tough development for Carlo, who missed 28 games during the regular season with a concussion, suffered at the hands of a dirty Tom Wilson head shot, and oblique issues for the Black and Gold.
As far as the Boston Bruins go, you’ll probably see Bruce Cassidy mixing and matching defensemen pairs and playing some guys on their weak sides while missing a couple of rugged right-handed defensemen.
“You’re probably going to see a lot of different partners tonight together. I expect all six [defensemen] will be their best, and whatever helps us win is how we’ll approach it,” said Cassidy, of a middle pair featuring Mike Reilly and left-handed Jeremy Lauzon playing on his off side. “I’m sure you’ll see Reilly with different players. There’s no rule that says you have to play pairs every shift. You can mix guys in as the game unfolds and as [things] dictate it.”
Miller is skating on his own back in Boston, so at this point he may be closer than Carlo to potentially returning to game action. But it remains to see how each player comes back in what can be a very non-linear recovery in the hockey world from concussions.
Here are the Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings vs. the Islanders in Game 4 based on Saturday’s morning skate: