Carle, Bolts’ highest-paid d-man, healthy scratched for second time in four games

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Matt Carle, who’s halfway through a six-year, $33 million deal with Tampa Bay, is a healthy scratch tonight as Bolts take the Sabres — making it the second time in four games he’s been banished to the press box.

Carle’s first healthy scratch came on Saturday, when he was dropped from the lineup for a 3-1 loss to Boston.

The 31-year-old drew back in for Tampa’s next two contests, playing over 19 minutes in games against Carolina and Detroit, but was dropped again tonight as head coach Jon Cooper went with a six-man defensive unit of Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, Jason Garrison, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Sustr and Nikita Nesterov.

As mentioned above, Carle carries a pretty big price tag — $5.5 million annually, making him the average cap hit among Lightning defensemen. He’s pointless through 13 games this year and has poor possession metrics (including a team-worst Corsi).

That said, Cooper insists the decision isn’t about Carle, but rather rotating in all seven of his defensemen.

“We want a healthy (defense), and it’s not anything against Matt Carle,” Cooper said prior to the Boston game, per the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s going to happen, guys know it, so it wasn’t blindsiding.”