Charlie McAvoy impressed Bruins officials in first day at camp


Charlie McAvoy impressed Bruins officials in first day at camp

WILMINGTON – Charlie McAvoy looked every bit the first round pick as he glided through skating drills in each of the first two sessions at Bruins Development Camp on Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena.

The 18-year-old Boston University D-man was trying on his Bruins gear for the first time suiting up with 26 other Bruins prospects for this week’s camp, and he looked excited at the next step in his development toward a bright future as an NHL defenseman.

“Throughout the draft process, you look at a team like the Bruins and you’re like ‘Wow, [the Bruins] could be a really good fit,’” said McAvoy, who had three goals and 25 points in 37 games at Boston University this season as the youngest player in college hockey. “So that’s why it’s exciting, and I was really, really happy to be drafted here. I can really grow in all aspects: primarily on defense, I think, and to continue to grow defensively while getting more mature in my own zone.

“It’s little things too. I’ve got to get stronger and faster, and getting more mature and mentally tough. [These are] things I’m going to need at the next level. I just want to grow this week, and to learn as much as I can. I want to really familiarize myself with the resources here that are all here to support me, and to help me. These are all people I’m going to lean on in my career, so it’s nice to be able to start building a relationship with them this week.”

The Bruins see the same in McAvoy, who looked even bigger and stronger on skates than one might have expected after speaking with him in Buffalo at the NHL Draft a couple of weeks ago.

The skating game has been there from his first days at BU. The passing and hockey IQ are strengths rather than weaknesses. And he has the kind of durable, rugged frame that screams out “hockey body” that can log a lot of minutes and responsibility.

That’s exactly what Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo saw on Tuesday putting him through his first paces as a member of the Black and Gold.

“He’s smooth. I don’t even think he’s 6-foot-1, but he looks like he’s 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3 [on the ice] and he’s wide. He can really skate. He’s an effortless skater,” said Pandolfo. “He’s the type of D-man that you hope can play 25-26 minutes a night. That’s what he looks like when you watched him in college last year. He has no problem handling a lot of ice time, so that’s important.

“Sometimes you can tell who the natural leaders on the ice right off the hop, and he was talking a lot. He was helping guys out. For a first year guy to be doing that, you can see he’s a guy that’s going to be a leader moving forward. That was impressive.”

The skill, skating and the solid build along with the physicality component sound an awful lot like the boxes that a guy like Drew Doughty checks off nightly for the Los Angeles Kings, and that’s the kind of guy the Bruins are desperately in need of developing over the next couple of years.

It’s an awfully big pair of skates to fill for a teenager like McAvoy fresh off being selected 14th overall last month, but his development camp debut was a good first stride in the right direction.

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

TAMPA BAY – It certainly might not be the shape they envisioned themselves being in when these late season games arrived against the President’s Trophy favorites in Tampa Bay, but the Bruins are bracing for a showdown with the high-powered Lightning either way. 

The Bruins stand just four points behind the Bolts with one game in hand, and mathematically they absolutely have a shot of catching and surpassing the Lightning for the NHL’s top spot with three games remaining against them in the season’s final month. But realistically it’s got to be considered a long shot at this point with Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk all out for Saturday night’s meeting with Tampa, and Bergeron and McAvoy expected to potentially miss all three of their divisional scraps. 

Coming off a 3-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Florida Panthers and at the end of a week-long, four-game road trip, the Bruins know they’re going to need to tighten things up against a Lightning team they can’t match firepower with in their weakened state. 

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of just playing the game in front of us, and not getting too far ahead, too high or too low. We’ve got the best team in the National Hockey League, arguably, at home and rested [in front of us],” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We look forward to the challenge. They’re a high-scoring team, so we talked about that with our goaltenders and our ‘D’ today. We better be ‘on’ because they’ll be coming. Our forwards are going to have to help out in that area and make sure we’re reloading well, and keep getting pucks at the net. 

“We didn’t finish [against Florida] but it wasn’t because of lack of effort or lack of pucks at the net. That part of our game is trending pretty well offensively. I think you’re going to have score to a certain extent against this team because you’re not going to shut them down completely. That’s our game plan for whoever is going to be in the lineup. They’ve got to be ready for it because that’s how it works, and that’s how it’s worked all year long for us. We need the guys in there to do their part and do it well.”

Certainly the Bruins could still do some offensive damage with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak still intact on their top line, and David Krejci and Rick Nash also still developing their chemistry on the second line. Torey Krug also came through feeling healthy at practice on Friday after soaking up 26 plus minutes of ice time in the loss to Florida, so they’ll also have some puck-moving and offensive pop on the back end as well.

But it may come down to the Chara-less defense and Tuukka Rask to step up and go into shutdown mode against the Lightning if they’re looking to really push up on the Lightning, and make this a horse race for the Atlantic Division down the stretch. Not to mention, it would be a psychological swing for both teams if the Bruins could take down a rested, relatively healthy Tampa Bay hockey club with their undermanned, injury-ravaged bunch. 

That in and of itself should be plenty of motivation for a Bruins team that’s got their sights and set on bigger and better things this spring with the Lightning expected to be one of the big obstacles standing in their way.


Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while jacked and pumped about that Infinity War trailer. Wow. 


*Credit here for something outside the box and clear hockey satire while looking far into the NHL’s crystal ball where the new expansion team is called the Seattle Slippery Seals, and Brad Marchand is the head of the NHLPA. That is quite a twist at the end of the movie right there. 


*The Hockey Central crew debates whether they would want John Tavares or Tyler Seguin as a player to build their team around. Seguin is having a solid year (with the end of his contract coming into view), but I’m going with Tavares all day long. I think he’s more of a competitor and a reliable player along with an equitable level of talent, and that counts for quite a bit in team-building. 


*It’s good to see the PHWA decide to make public the ballots of all NHL Awards starting at the end of this season. It’s something I voted in favor of and already did annually as I think transparency is something we always ask for from those we cover, so it should never be something we shy away from. 


*The Flyers have hit the skids again after pushing themselves into playoff view. This has been such a streak team over the last couple of years. 


*Pro Hockey Talk says that the Montreal Canadiens need to take a long look into the mirror before they move on from this season. I couldn’t agree more. 


*For something completely different: I feel badly for my kids that Toys R us is liquidating as a company, and the stores will be closing. It’s getting to the point where there will be no more brick and mortar toy stores for kids to visit, and that’s something from my youth experience that they’re going to miss out on. Frankly, it’s kind of sad.