The mutual support of a Hampus Lindholm-Brandon Carlo pairing
Lindholm’s assertiveness, combined with Carlo’s defensive instincts, have resulted in a successful two-game stint.
Brandon Carlo’s first goal of the year on Monday night provided tangible momentum for the stay-at-home defender and his continuous offensive development.
Carlo’s first-period strike against Florida came off the rush but started well away from the Panthers’ offensive zone. Carlo — the weak side defenseman — rushed up the ice to join the play, a staple of Jim Montgomery’s new offensively-minded system.
With the proverbial ‘monkey off his back,’ Carlo’s progression to a higher offensive ceiling continues in a setup constructed to yield such results. This offensively driven system may not mirror Carlo’s instincts, but the eighth-year pro has established a comfort level with Montgomery’s up-tempo philosophy.
“Instinctually, you know, I’ve always liked to be on the blue line and more of that layer of defense,” Carlo said. “I feel like it’s just the trust within the teammates and for them to be making the plays and holding onto that.”
The offense will continue to come as Carlo progresses within Montgomery’s system.
He won’t emerge as another puck-moving dynamo on Boston’s back end. But it’s easier to project that Carlo will play a more prominent offensive role than usual for the second-highest-scoring team in the NHL.
“His DNA is to shut people down. Like he reads the ice really quick,” Montgomery said regarding Carlo. “Offensively, I think his DNA is he’s a support player. He’s really smart, so he knows where he should be in the structure of how we’re playing.”
No line or d-pairing is safe from Montgomery’s occasional lineup tweaks. Most recently, the first-year Boston coach altered the top four on the back end. Matt Grzelcyk’s reunion with Charlie McAvoy resulted in Carlo moving to a second-pairing role with Hampus Lindholm.
The best defensive pairings in the NHL feature a mix of two different skill sets that mesh in various means. Carlo and Lindholm are no exception to that rule.
Lindholm’s assertiveness, combined with Carlo’s defensive instincts, resulted in a successful two-game stint. In 20:08 of 5v5 play, the potent duo produced a 21-7 shot differential and a 24-6 scoring chance margin.
“I think [Lindholm] does a great job of keeping me honest with being assertive on the ice,” Carlo said of his pairing. “He plays very assertive in that regard, but I feel like our games complement each other just because, you know, he’s a good puck mover…I feel like we read well off of each other in the d-zone as well.”
Carlo continues to benefit from Montgomery’s system and his new pairing. The same is true with Lindholm.
Lindholm’s production with McAvoy provided Montgomery with a dynamic top pairing in certain parts of the season. With Carlo’s defensive stability, Lindholm has a little more freedom to assert himself in the attack.
“I think that Lindy knows that he’s the guy always going,” Montgomery said. “I think also with his development, with his offensive confidence, it gives us more of a balanced attack with all of our pairings.”
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