Brandon Carlo bears no grudge against Cal Clutterbuck.
The Boston Bruins defenseman reflected Friday on the season-ending check the New York Islanders right wing levied on him in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Carlo exited Game 3 of the Bruins-Islanders second-round series after Clutterbuck’s check sent his head into the glass. Although an upper-body injury sidelined Carlo for Games 4, 5 and 6, he agrees with Clutterbuck’s and the vast majority of the NHL community’s assessment that it was a “clean” hit.
“I thought — great hit,” Carlo said in a video press conference. “I had no issues with it whatsoever. He went right through my chest. I can respect that any day of the week. He plays a hard game. I saw him coming down. I’m in that situation probably 10 times a game with those guys. They put the pucks in those good positions when they dump it. It’s not easy. It’s not a fun job as a defenseman to have to go back and continue to get hit like that.
“Overall, after I thought about it for a little bit, I’m wondering if there’s something I could do, maybe you look for a reverse hit, just understanding who’s coming down on you or whatnot. At the same time, I was focused on making a play with the puck and I did that. That’s my first job, first and foremost. I can’t just let him kind of swoop in and just grab the puck. I was just trying to do my job and unfortunately after he hit me, my head just hit the boards a little bit. I’ve honestly felt fine. Trying to grab my stick there obviously didn’t look good from the viewer’s standpoint, but yeah, that’s just part of the game.”
Head injuries marred Carlo’s season, and he likely wouldn’t have played in Game 7 had the Bruins forced a winner-take-all showdown by winning Game 6.
Carlo also said he’s confident he’ll recover fully over the offseason and be “more than 100 percent” when training camp opens ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.
Given that rosy outlook, it’s probably best for Carlo to put the topic of Clutterbuck’s hit to rest once and for all.