Carlo won the hearts of quite a few fans with his excellent play as a 19-year-old rookie defenseman and his timely shot blocking. The rookie was, and still is, logging a ton of minutes alongside Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara.
Recently, Carlo’s play has slipped. He seems to have been taking a few too many penalties, he has been out of position at times, and has been in over his head with some of the top tier talent he has been matched up with.
All of this is expected with rookies in any sport at some time. Every player suffers growing pains and the truly talented athletes are the ones that learn from their mistakes and build off of them.
For Carlo, the growing pains have been existent over the last couple of months, which makes it feel like it is time for him to get a few learning experiences from the press box. Knowing the Bruins fan base, saying this will probably not go over very well, but hear it out.
Yes, the best knowledge is making a mistake and learning from it, but sometimes watching others, especially in sports, is helpful for an athlete. Zdeno Chara has long been one of the most talented defensemen in NHL. There have been signs of his game slipping a bit, as was expected with his age, but he still continues to shut down top line players on most nights. Watching and examining a guy like Chara play would be beneficial to young hockey players at every level, including the NHL. The problem for Carlo right now is that he is currently playing alongside Chara, so he can’t be watching every move the 6’ 9” captain makes because he needs to be aware of his own game while he is on the ice.
Perhaps Carlo getting a chance to watch Chara from above will allow him to pick up on a few minor details that may help him get out of his funk and get back to the type of play he was displaying early in the season. And it’s not only a guy like Chara he would be watching. The Bruins have games coming up against San Jose, Montreal, and Los Angeles. All of those teams have top-tier defensive talent including Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Drew Doughty, and Shea Weber. Carlo would be getting a chance to watch and learn from some veterans who really know how to play the game well.
Being a healthy scratch wouldn’t be a punishment for Carlo as much as it would be a learning experience. As a 20-year-old (he was 19 to start the season), he has be understanding of the fact that sometimes he’ll need to take a seat in the press box. However, if he takes the time to learn while he is up there, he will only improve his game.
Carlo also suffered a leg injury in the final game before the All-Star Break against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He did return to action the first game after the break, but perhaps a little time to give that leg some extra rest would also benefit the rookie defenseman.
A drawback to this idea is the fact the Bruins need to win as many games as possible right now and Carlo is one of the more reliable defenseman on the blueline for the B’s, even with his recent struggles. However, the Bruins do have veteran d-man John-Michael Liles currently sitting out games, which doesn’t bode well for the front office due to the fact that they wasted two draft picks on him at last season’s trade deadline and then gave him a $2 million dollar contract this past offseason. Maybe playing the guy you put a good amount of money and stock into wouldn’t be such a bad thing, especially with the recent track record of the front office in Boston.
The talent for Carlo is definitely there. There’s little doubt that he will be a legitimate shutdown defenseman in the NHL for years to come. Right now, he is in a bit of a rookie year funk. He could benefit from a little rest and a learning experience. It doesn’t have to be an extended stretch up in the press box, but at this point in time Carlo would no doubt benefit from a 2-3 game stint up on level 9.
Like I said, this isn’t a punishment, it is just another way for him to learn. He’s made his mistakes and has learned from a few. Now it is time for him to watch from above and learn how to correct more of his mistakes so that he can continue to grow into the defenseman he is going to be.