Both the Bruins and first-year pro Brandon Carlo knew that they were better safe than sorry with the health of the 20-year-old defenseman.

Brandon Carlo missed all six playoff games this season because of a concussion. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Brandon Carlo missed all six playoff games this season because of a concussion. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Both the Bruins and first-year pro Brandon Carlo knew that they were better safe than sorry with the health of the 20-year-old defenseman.

Knocked out of action on the final day of the regular season on a hit from Capitals winger Alexander Ovechkin, Carlo confirmed what it was that ailed him and ultimately kept him out of all six of the B’s first-round playoff tilts against the Senators this month.

“I was diagnosed with a concussion and just going through the protocol with that I was trying to be safe with it,” Carlo, who skated in all 82 regular season games this year, admitted. “There’s a point where you kinda have to worry about the next 20 years rather than this year.”

Carlo did, however, give it a go at various times during the series, as he skated on his own during many of the club’s optional days or early practices, but confirmed that he was never quite symptom free.

“It was really disappointing. I really wanted to be out there, and it was hard to watch,” Carlo said of his recovery attempts. “But at the same time, I feel like the guys handled it very well and the guys who came up and filled those positions played very well.”

Although he was not well enough to play before the season’s end on Sunday, Carlo did feel part of this playoff run even from just being with the team on a daily basis, and noted that he has continued to improve in the last few days, mentioning that he was feeling pretty good though he was still getting past ‘a couple of little things’ along the way.

The Colorado Springs, Colo. native also said that this is not the first concussion of his career.

“One little one [before], this one was a little bit different,” Carlo said of his concussion history.

“I’m just trying to make sure I’m being smart with it.”

The 6-foot-5 finished his first season with six goals, 16 points, 88 shots on goal, and a plus-9 rating. His 20:48 of time on ice per game also ranked third among Bruins skaters and was the sixth-highest among NHL rookie defensemen.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Charlie McAvoy made his debut in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

Charlie McAvoy made his debut in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports)

A six-game series loss is not a success. It’s a failure by its very definition. But when the Bruins eventually look back on this year’s first-round loss to the Senators, they won’t recall it as the series that had more letdowns, injuries, and penalties to count, but rather the city’s first look at the future promise of defenseman Charlie McAvoy.

Thrown into the fire of the Stanley Cup Playoffs thanks to injuries that sidelined half of the Boston defense corps, the 19-year-old McAvoy was not a disaster. He did not need to be sheltered. By the third game, the 14th overall pick from just a summer ago looked more than ready, and it really only got better from there in terms of his consistency.

And as the opening round of postseason play came to a close last night, McAvoy’s 157:09 of time on ice in the series ranked as the seventh-most among playoff defensemen. His 26:11 of ice time per night was the 10th-most, and the three assists he tallied over the course of his six-game baptism by fire were the fifth-most.

It was long before Erik Karlsson embraced McAvoy in the post-series handshake line that you knew that McAvoy was real.

“I think the Boston Bruins fans are seeing something right now that they’re going to truly appreciate for years,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Just his composure and ability to play in three zones. He’s come in and moved the puck and he’s pushing the pace and trying to make things happen, and those are special talents when, in situations like [the playoffs], they want to be a difference maker. They can’t teach that. We can teach him some things system wise that he’ll pick up in a hurry. But, the stuff that he has – natural talents and abilities that you’re seeing – I think they’re getting a little bit better every time we see them.”

“Charlie [McAvoy] never played in the NHL before and he stepped up, logged a lot of minutes,” Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask mentioned when asked of the team’s defense (he later mentioned Joe Morrow in the same breath as well). “I think they definitely took a lot of steps forward in the series, and made some great plays and played a heck of a series.”

It’s impossible to imagine somebody going from the NCAA to the AHL to the NHL in a four-week span, but that’s basically exactly what McAvoy did, and without missing a beat for a Black and Gold squad that needed a miracle.

“We had a lot of neophytes going into this series in terms of hockey league playoffs. So, there’s a learning curve for them and that’s part of the growth process that we hope that if we’re sitting here next year at this time talking about advancing, that they learn something from this year,” Cassidy said following the series, clearly referencing No. 73. “That’s what every team goes through and the Pastrnaks of the world, McAvoy now, pick your players that are new to it and you have to learn from them.”

McAvoy’s emergence also answers a sneaky big question for the Bruins next year in regards to their defense, which will remain stacked with bodies with him here, even if the Vegas Golden Knights draft one of Adam McQuaid or Colin or Kevan Miller.

The beautiful part of this for the B’s, too, is that his ceiling can go only up with a full training camp come September.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

The Bruins’ season came to an end with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators in Game 6 at TD Garden. We got some reaction from players. Watch below. (Video courtesy Josh Dolan.)

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Zdeno Chara was the only healthy member of the B's top four defense in this series. (Greg M.</p>
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The Bruins' season ended with a Game 6 overtime loss Sunday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins’ season ended with a Game 6 overtime loss Sunday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

On the surface, squeezing into the playoffs and losing a first-round series against a mediocre Ottawa Senators team doesn’t look like much to be proud of. But head coach Bruce Cassidy is proud of his team and Bruins players are proud of themselves, and they should be.

We’ll never know what a healthy Bruins team could’ve done this postseason (the guess here is beat the Senators and maybe beat the Rangers in the next round), because we didn’t get to see it.

They didn’t have Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo, two of their top three defensemen, all series. They lost Adam McQuaid, another regular defenseman and regular penalty-killer, early in Game 2.

A fourth regular defenseman, Colin Miller, missed two games due to injury. Second-line center David Krejci missed the first two games, didn’t look like himself when he returned, then got hurt again early in Game 5 and missed the rest of the series.

Those aren’t excuses for losing the series; they’re legitimate reasons (among others) for losing it. We can debate just how much those injuries hurt the Bruins, but there’s no question they did hurt.

“I think it was apparent to everybody that we weren’t at full strength, and guys had to step up, and we talked about it,” Cassidy said. “Other guys got an opportunity. I thought they did very well. So yeah, I’m proud of the guys’ effort from Feb. 9 on. We put ourselves in a position to be here in the first place. I think we played well enough to have the opportunity to advance, but they made a few more plays than us. Every game could have went either way. So, I’m proud of the players.”

What the Bruins should be proud of is how guys stepped up and made this a competitive series despite the injuries. Guys made mistakes (seriously, stop shooting the puck over the glass) and the team as a whole hit some tough stretches, but it really never looked like the Bruins were lacking effort.

Obviously the biggest positive in terms of guys stepping up was defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who made his NHL debut in Game 1, played huge minutes throughout the series and more than held his own as a top-pairing defenseman.

But there was also Kevan Miller and Joe Morrow, who stepped into top-four roles, played far more minutes than they did in the regular season and helped the Bruins’ defense perform better than anyone probably expected.

Up front, Noel Acciari, Riley Nash and Dominic Moore basically played top-six minutes and got some of the toughest matchups of the series, including a lot of Erik Karlsson. Sean Kuraly stepped into the lineup and scored two huge goals in Game 5, including the overtime winner. Drew Stafford scored twice. Tim Schaller scored a goal and got bumped up into the top six a couple times. David Backes played some of his best hockey of the season.

It might be tempting to say the top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak underperformed, and you probably would’ve liked a couple more goals from them for sure. But each of them still ended up with four points in the series and they were very good by pretty much any other measure, be it shots on goal, shot attempts or Corsi.

The problem, as outlined here, is that those three went a bit cold at times and there was no other consistently reliable source of offense. But that’s not the fault of the guys who were trying to provide that offense. A lot of guys were asked to play bigger roles than they probably should have been playing, and most of them did about as well as anyone could’ve reasonably expected.

“Very proud of everyone,” Bergeron said. “A lot of guys came in the lineup with not much experience and were asked to play a different role and they did it. It was impressive to see that and it was next man up every time and I think it was great experience for the young guys for sure.”

Looking ahead, you probably have to be pretty encouraged when it comes to the defense. When you add Krug and Carlo to what you saw this series, especially from McAvoy, you start to have the makings of a defense corps that actually looks pretty solid.

But up front, this series helped highlight a lack of finishers. All those depth guys mentioned above — Nash, Moore, Acciari, Kuraly, Schaller — they’re just that: depth guys. They’re good fourth-liners who can pass as serviceable third-liners, and a few of them are good penalty-killers, but they’re not second-liners and it’s not fair to expect consistent scoring from them, which is what this Bruins team would’ve needed to make a deep run.

So yeah, Cassidy and the players should be proud of their showing in this series. But the Bruins’ front office should realize that there’s work to be done in order to take another step forward next season.

Blog Author: 
Scott McLaughlin

Chalk it up to bad luck if you want, but there’s no doubt that the Bruins were a dead team walking and en route to their third straight playoff miss when Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien in February.

Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy wants to return next season. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy wants to return next season. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Chalk it up to bad luck if you want, but there’s no doubt that the Bruins were a dead team walking and en route to their third straight playoff miss when Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien in February.

Still, the decision to give Cassidy the keys to the Bruins and for his first NHL coaching gig since 2003 was a risk and a half for Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, but one that ultimately paid off as Cassidy helped lead the Bruins to an 18-8-1 record to finish the regular season and to their first playoff berth since 2014’s Presidents’ Trophy season.

And while the ending was not one that the Bruins wanted, as the Senators eliminated them by way of a Game 6 overtime win at TD Garden on Sunday, Cassidy has his backers in the Boston room.

“The results speak for themselves,” Bruins forward David Backes said of Cassidy’s tenure. “We were climbing uphill when he took over and we made our way in. It wasn’t easy. We had to streak some games together, we lost a couple that we really needed, and in the end we were really pull together as a group.

“I don’t know how you make an argument against [keeping him].”

Under Cassidy, the Bruins scored the fourth-most goals in the NHL (91) and allowed the second-fewest goals against (62).

As Backes said, the results did the talking in regards to Cassidy’s future in Boston, but he himself pumped the brakes when asked about any changes that the team will have to make for more success come this time next season.

“That will be determined going forward by management whether I continue to be the head coach and what players will be here will be determined by management. So, it’s a tough question to answer,” Cassidy said. “I think we scored some goals this year. We were good on the rush as well and the power play, we’ve gone back to February, and we were always a good forechecking team.”

As for if he wants to be back, Cassidy made it known with his final postgame question of the season.

“Absolutely,” Cassidy said without hesitation when asked if he wants to return as the coach next year. “100 percent.”

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

The Bruins’ playoff run came to an end Sunday with 3-2 overtime loss in Game 6 against the Senators. WEEI’s Ty Anderson and Scott McLaughlin broke down the game and discussed the Bruins’ season as a whole and whether or not it was a success. Watch below.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

The Bruins were more than lucky to escape the first period of their must-win Game 6 against the Senators with a lead to their name. But that luck faded in and out, and ultimately led to their elimination, as the Sens defeated the Bruins by a 3-2 final in overtime.