Throughout the season, Carlo’s game improved tremendously. He appeared to play with more confidence as the season progressed. Carlo benefited greatly from the coaching change and a more positive environment. Montgomery’s presence allowed Carlo to play more confidently, contributing more offensively and creating more chances.
In my opinion, Carlo is one of the players who benefitted the most from the coaching change. Last season, Carlo was still a valuable shutdown defenseman for the Bruins but did not play with the same confidence and consistency as he did this year. It’s no secret Bruce Cassidy’s critical coaching style grew old in the Bruins locker room. Especially a player like Carlo, whose role is to kill penalties and eat defensive zone minutes. In my opinion, Carlo is one of the players who benefitted the most from the coaching change.
Carlo’s role is to play the tough and grueling defensive minutes. This season, 22% of Carlo’s shifts started in the defensive zone, more than any other Bruins defenseman. The Boston Bruins’ Penalty Kill was the best in the NHL this season, and Carlo was a significant reason why. The 6 foot 6 defensemen averaged 3:14 of short-handed time on ice per game, most on the Bruins, and ranked eighth in the NHL. He also finished third on the team in hits with 128 and blocked shots with 116.
Brandon Carlo was the most consistent Bruins defenseman during their brief 2023 playoff run. He was one of four Bruins to finish the series with the Panthers with a positive +/- at +2 and was overall the second-best Bruins skater in the series behind Brad Marchand. He was tough, physical, and consistent, which cannot be said for many Bruins during the Florida series.
I understand many Bruins fans will strongly disagree with Carlo’s grade for the 2022-2023 season. Carlo is not a dynamic defenseman like Hampus Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy, but he is still one of the most important players on the Bruins. Carlo’s role as a defensive defenseman who kills penalties is not easy. He gets no attention if his job goes well, and if the opposing team scores, he gets criticized. I do not believe there is an athlete in Boston who faces more unjustified criticism than Brandon Carlo. If anything, he deserves more credit. He is the most valuable member of the National Hockey League’s best Penalty Kill unit. He played with more confidence than he has in previous years in a top-four role on the Bruins blue line and finished third in the NHL in +/- with a +43, an incredible accomplishment for a defensive defenseman. He is the unsung hero of the Boston Bruins.