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Can Unsung Hero On Bruins Defense Shut Down Matthews?



Boston Bruins

Could an unsung hero on the blue line be the key for the Boston Bruins to shut down the NHL’s leading goal scorer, Auston Matthews?

Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo is arguably coming off his best NHL season and will likely be the key to shutting down the Maple Leafs sniper. If the 2023-24 regular season was any indication, Carlo will be the defenseman Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery matches up against Matthews the most in the Bruins-Maple Leafs Eastern Conference quarterfinals series. Carlo played 31:22 against Matthews at 5-on-5 this season (third-most on the team). Matthews was held to three goals on 20 shots and three assists in four games against the Bruins, who went 4-0-0 against their longtime Original 6 rivals this season.

“I thought Brandon was great,” longtime NHL analyst and former NHL head coach and executive Pierre McGuire said on the latest Eye Test Podcast. “He’s a playoff-style player, too, because matchups do matter. I’m not saying he’s as good as Kjell Samuelsson was when I was coaching in Pittsburgh because Kjell was a really important player for us, as much as an important player for us as Ulfir Samuelsson was for us because Ulfie was critically important. We just played straight matchups every single game; every single series, we played straight matchups, and we would drive the opposition nuts because they didn’t know where we were coming from.



So, you’ve gotta make sure if your Toronto, you make sure early in the series, who they’re playing Carlo against. If they’re playing a matchup game, then there’s different ways of breaking that down if you’re Toronto, and there’s different ways to camouflage that if you’re Boston, so you just gotta figure that out as a staff.”

Older Boston Bruins fans probably don’t want to be reminded of what a bitter nemesis like Ulf Samuelsson did to the Bruins and, more specifically, former Bruins winger and current team president Cam Neely, but if Carlo can shut down Matthews and the high-octane offense of the Maple Leafs, the way Samuelsson did the Bruins in 1991 and 1992, the Bruins should be advancing to the second round.


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