It’s just like a Homeric poem. To this point, the Boston Bruins 2017-18 season has been a bit of an odyssey.
By his own admission, Brandon Carlo played the role of Achilles on Saturday night. The Bruins had it tough during their 4-1 loss to Toronto – their second in as many nights to the Maple Leafs – but none had it tougher than Carlo.
A pair of mistakes that led directly to Leafs goals prompted Carlo to make his Achilles claim.
“I was kinda the Achilles heel tonight with my mistakes,” Carlo said postgame. “If I didn’t make those we probably would be ahead in those areas. It’s unfortunate, but maybe next time we’ll get a good balance and my mistakes will be covered.”
Carlo’s first mistake gave the Leafs an early advantage. With the puck in the near corner of his own zone, Carlo attempted an outlet pass to Sean Kuraly. However, Carlo missed his target and the puck wound up on the stick of Mitch Marner, who wristed a nice wrister past Tuukka Rask for the 1-0 lead.
“The first one he’s just off,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said on Carlo. “It was the right idea [making the pass to Kuraly]; he just missed.”
Carlo’s second mistake could be chalked up to an unfortunate bounce. With the Bruins down 2-1 and having just failed to tie things up on a five-on-three power-play, Morgan Reilly’s shot near the blue line first seemingly deflected off Danton Heinen’s stick but then bounced off Carlo’s skate. The puck found its way under the arm of Rask and into the back of the net to give Toronto a 3-1 cushion in the third.
“[Carlo] had a tough break on the third goal,” Cassidy said of the third goal. “I mean, he’s got to make a split second decision; they get pucks to the net, he needs to box out, it’s a flash screen, and those things happen.”
On top of the deflection, a miscommunication at the Boston bench resulting in four skaters – even though they weren’t on the penalty kill – didn’t help things. Jordan Szwarz didn’t join to defend the Toronto rush until late, well after the Leafs had easily entered the Boston zone, eventually leading to Reilly’s goal.
Bad break or not, Carlo took the blame for his mistakes, and ultimately for the defeat.
“I had a bad night. I don’t know really what to say about that,” Carlo said. “I just tried to make plays and they didn’t really work out. Ended up in the back of the net. Those things can’t really happen all the time…Like I said, just a couple mistakes by me that ended up in the back of the net and it’s unfortunate.”
Though Carlo puts the blame on himself, his coach and goaltender are there to pick him up, trying to take the heat off of him.
“Yeah, I mean, he’s being a little hard on himself,” said Cassidy, “You don’t want to discourage guys from making plays, tape to tape breakouts, now obviously you’ve got to manage the puck better as a team.”
Rask was also pretty quick to deflect the blame away from Carlo, saying he should have stopped the third goal.
“You need to make that save,” Rask noted. “I don’t care if it’s tipped or not, I’d like to make that save. You know, it’s 2-1, we’re in control of the game, and then it tipped and made an unlucky bounce, but just got to find a way to make that save. So, yeah that was tough.”
Though he is in his second season, Brandon Carlo still has much to learn. No one can fault him for taking the blame for two costly mistakes, but as Cassidy noted, Carlo might have been a bit hard on himself.
Carlo knows he can improve, and Cassidy is convinced he will.
“Brandon will bounce back,” Cassidy’s stayed. “He’s a good kid, he cares, he’ll continue to play hard, he’ll have to play himself out of it. It’s that simple because he’s a good player for us.”