BOSTON — It was a rough start to the season for Charlie McAvoy, but the Boston Bruins defenseman has seemed to find his stride of late.
McAvoy missed a chunk of time due to a concussion and struggled to find his groove when he returned. But in his last two games, the 21-year-old has made his presence known on the ice. In Saturday’s 5-4 overtime win against the Los Angeles Kings, McAvoy registered four shots on goal and three hits during his 23:35 of ice time.
He continued his strong play in Sunday’s 2-1 OT victory over the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden when he took two shots on goal, had three hits and blocked two shots. McAvoy led all defensemen with 25:34 time on the ice.
Despite an early-season setback, Bruce Cassidy has liked what he’s seen from No. 73.
“I think he was really good (Saturday), kind of demanded the puck, very assertive in his play,” the Bruins head coach said after the game. “The decision making today was physical as well.
“Maybe he’s starting to feel like now he’s into form, right? It’s not that easy in this league just 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,” Cassidy added. “He’s had a good start here. Part of that we have to try to temper with him without talking him down and not reaching his potential.
“But he has to understand its a tough league and just play the game in front of him and I think he’s starting to now play that and when the opportunities are there it looks like to me he’s taking advantage of situations … that’s a sign that a guy’s in the zone. When you have the puck a lot, you’re making plays that you’re not forcing stuff and he seemed to be making a lot of the right decisions and he’s in a groove right now.”
As for McAvoy, he’s just happy to be able to contribute to his team.
“I was kind of alluding to this (Saturday), 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,” he said. “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 will need to continue to be a crutch on the Bruins’ defense as the team fights for a playoff spot down the stretch.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images