It has not been an easy season for Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo for a variety of reasons, but he is looking like himself again as the Bruins shift their attention to the playoffs.
A concussion sidelined Carlo for 25 days in March. In his second game back, he injured his oblique and missed just over a month.
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Carlo made his return on May 4, playing in four of Boston’s final five regular-season games and scoring in a win over the New York Rangers on May 6.
“Right now, I’m feeling very good,” Carlo told the Boston Herald upon rejoining the team the last week of April. “Obviously it’s been a process with injuries for the past little bit here, but we’ve got great guys around the room who have helped me to gain perspective on how blessed we truly are, so I’ve just been living day-to-day, working as hard as I can to get back and appreciate the situation I’ve been in. It’s a blessing to be here, playing games in the NHL.”
Those four games gave Carlo a chance to get comfortable with new blue line partner Mike Reilly, who was acquired at the trade deadline.
“He’s so good defensively,” teammate Charlie McAvoy said last week of Carlo. “To see him, the last two games, keep pucks alive, get shots on net, making plays in the O-zone, that’s awesome. He’s a tremendous player. He means a lot to this group. To have him back and seeing him playing well and being a big part of it, is awesome.”
The tight-knit nature of the Bruins locker room is due in part to a Bible study started back in 2015, which both Carlo and McAvoy have attended. Carlo credits the study with helping him adjust to life in the NHL when he made his debut as a 19-year-old.
“I mean, when you’re coming into the league as a rookie, it can be difficult at times to be completely yourself,” Carlo said in an interview for Sports Spectrum Magazine. “You wanna fit in, you wanna do the right things, especially as a young guy looking up to these older guys. But right away, I felt very comfortable just being who I was … It was great to have that group to be able to go to.”
Long-term injuries were not an issue for the 24-year-old before this season. He played in all 82 games as a rookie and missed only 19 games over his first four years. Carlo produced four goals and 15 assists while ranking third among Bruins skaters in time on ice in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season.
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On Carlo’s right forearm is a tattoo that says “live by faith, not by sight,” a reference to 2 Corinthians 5:7. He clung to that message when the NHL shut down during the pandemic.
“It’s been interesting to have the time to take a step back and recognize things with faith,” he said in an April 2020 video conference call with the media. “To a point, I think God may be telling us to slow down a little bit in life. My tattoo has come into real life at this time. … I’ve got it tattooed on my body for a reason. It’s something I truly believe, something that I’ve been trying to focus on living by each and every day.”
Boston enters the 2021 postseason as the No. 3 seed in the East Division, setting up a matchup with the Washington Capitals and former longtime Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. Game 1 will take place in Washington D.C. on Saturday.
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