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Charlie McAvoy finally finding his game

February 11, 2019, 11:01 AM ET [27 Comments]
Anthony Travalgia
Boston Bruins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Charlie McAvoy’s 2018-19 campaign hasn’t gone quite the way anyone has wanted it to.

With expectations sky high for the 21-year old, a rash of injuries has caused McAvoy to take a step back in his development. Fighting his way back from injuries, McAvoy has struggled to get back to his game, and back to the top pairing defenseman he has been.

But now, seemingly as healthy has he’s been all year, McAvoy has turned a corner and has found his game again.

“Charlie’s maybe, only he can answer, but he’s missed some time with different injuries. Maybe he’s starting to feel like now he’s into form, right? It’s not that easy in this league to miss five weeks or four weeks or whatever the case was each time and then all of a sudden get back and revved up to full speed. And the expectations are high for Charlie. He’s had a good start here,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said following Sunday’s 2-1 overtime victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

Helping the Bruins pick up a pair of back-to-back overtime wins Saturday and Sunday, McAvoy chipped in with his two best games of the season.

In Saturday’s victory over the Kings, McAvoy finished with a goal and an assist. On Sunday, he assisted on John Moore’s tally, the lone regulation goal for the Bruins. But what was most impressive on Sunday was his ability to slow down the Avalanche’s high powered top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen.

Colorado’s lone goal came from a MacKinnon power play strike, but other than that, the line was held off the scoresheet.

“Well, he’s a very, play against anybody, plays on the power play, plays on the penalty kill and moves the puck, so a little more modern-day type of player, does a little bit of everything,” said Cassidy. “If you look at the Drew Doughty’s the [Roman] Josi’s, [P.K.] Subban’s, whoever you’re going to put in those categories.”

As talented as McAvoy is offensively, he’s not always going to find his name on the scoresheet. But as long as he is responsible in his own end, and doing his job defensively, McAvoy is happy with his game.

“Yeah, I think over these last couple of games, I was kind of alluding to this yesterday, the production maybe might not be there, but I’ll take playing consistent hockey, being relied on and being trusted by the coaches and the team,” said McAvoy.

“I’ll take that any day, and I feel like I’ve been playing a consistent brand of hockey and trying to just continue that. That’s my goal every single game: to be relied on, to be solid, to try to play mistake-free hockey – obviously that’s not possible – but do my best.”

McAvoy also showed his physical side on Sunday. Officially registering three hits, McAvoy’s collision with Avalanche forward Matt Nieto was the most notable. McAvoy followed the hit with his assist on the Moore goal. An all-around perfect shift from McAvoy.

“I think, sometimes, it just presents itself, and then there’s times when it starts and then it kind of – I’ll just start to play a more physical game,” said McAvoy. “I like to be physical when I can within the rules, so it was nice to get a couple of hits. The one, I don’t want to say it led to the goal, but it was nice to get rewarded at the end of that shift.”

Despite appearing in just 29 games so far, McAvoy is 8th on the team in points with 15, second on the team among defensemen.

For now, captain Zdeno Chara remains as the anchor on the Bruins blueline, but whether it’s because of father time, or more steps forward by McAvoy, the passing of the torch from Chara to McAvoy is near.

“I mean, that’s the goal of mine. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself; I try and just live in the moment and day by day, but I mean, down the road, to mean to this team what Chara’s meant to this team is, I mean, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to that, but that’s a goal of mine is to be as consistent as he is,” added McAvoy.

Consistency has been what McAvoy has been showing of late and the Bruins hope that continues.

Weekend Notes
Even though it doesn't feel like the Bruins have played all that great lately, they have points in seven straight, with five of their last seven games going to overtime.

Since being bumped up to the right of Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, Danton Heinen has two goals, one assist and nine shots on goal in two and a half games on the top line.

In a game where a slumping Jaroslav Halak really needed to perform well, the Bruins backup made 35 saves on 36 shots and was the Bruins best player.

Speaking of goalies, with Sunday's 4-0 shutout of the Syracuse Crunch, Providence Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre has won 10 consecutive starts.
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