Tampa Bay Lightning: The Real Matt Carle Effect

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We talked about in the last slide how one of the most important jobs for a defender is to not turn the puck over. For the Tampa Bay Lightning and Head Coach Jon Cooper’s system, another important aspect of a defenders game is to be able to contribute offensively. Now, that doesn’t always mean getting your name on the score sheet every night, but setting up an offensive opportunity or even getting the puck into the offensive zone is just as important. For Matt Carle, that is one of the underrated skills to his game that many fans just do not appreciate.

In a recent article, I talked about how the Detroit Red Wings and how they have found a possible solution for the ‘Tampa Triplets’. Detroit has a system that allows their defenders and forwards to clamp down on the skillful forwards so they do not have the chance to generate speed in the neutral zone. This leaves the Lightning defense the task of advancing the puck through the neutral zone with the opposition crowding the area heavily.

So far, Lightning blue liners have had trouble advancing the puck through the zone and into the attacking third so an offensive chance can be generated. One player that has done the job well more times than not is Matt Carle. Not only does he get the puck through the neutral zone, but he advances into the attacking zone and holds the puck so that his forwards can find open ice. Next to Victor Hedman, Carle is one of the best on the team in doing this. We have seen it not only against opponents like Detroit, but also against other teams that allow open lanes through the middle of the ice that allow defenseman like Carle to advance uncontested into the offensive zone.

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Another aspect of Carle’s game that goes unnoticed is his ability to block shots. Carle ranked second on the team, once again just behind Victor Hedman, in this category last season. If healthy for all 82 games last season, Carle would be in the top 30 in the entire league for this stat with an estimated 142 blocked shots

It may not be the flashy blocks where you see a player like J.T. Brown slide across the top of the circle to negate a potential scoring chance, but it gets the job done. When the Lightning lost Carle during the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Montreal Canadians, you could tell that Carle’s presence in the lineup was missed.

Along with using his body along the wall better over the last few seasons and improving his outlet passes, Matt Carle does more things for this team and does not get the credit a player like Hedman or Stralman receives. Now, that is not saying that Carle has exactly played up to the $5.75 million dollar salary that he is currently receiving and you would like to see some of the offensive punch that he provided back in his days with the Philadelphia Flyers, but on a team that has the chance to win the Stanley Cup now, Carle is a kep piece on the Lightning blue line.

Next: It's Time To Appreciate Matt Carle Just A Little Bit More