McAvoy paired with Chara in final Bruins practice before playoffs

McAvoy paired with Chara in final Bruins practice before playoffs

BRIGHTON, Mass. – The Stanley Cup playoff education of Bruins' 19-year-old rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy continues, and today it included being featured in a top pairing with 40-year-old Zdeno Chara at practice at Warrior Ice Arena on Tuesday morning. 

It certainly appears that the 2016 first-round pick could make his NHL debut on Wednesday night in Game 1 against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre, a big spot for the Black and Gold.

Certainly it will be a challenge to go up against Ottawa’s best offensive players, but skating with Chara also gives McAvoy the best kind of veteran protection he could ask for if there are any inevitable rookie mistakes made by the teenager in the D-zone. The highly-skilled McAvoy was also playing at one of the points on the top power play unit at practice and looks like he’s going to be featured quite a bit in his first go-round.

Top-four defensemen Brandon Carlo (upper body) and Torey Krug (lower body) continue to be absent from practice, and on Tuesday, David Krejci (undisclosed) and Dominic Moore (undisclosed) were missing up front along with Noel Acciari (upper body), who skated on his own prior to practice. Krejci left  practice early on Monday morning and Bruce Cassidy said following the session that it was a maintenance issue.

Anton Khudobin was once again missing from practice on Tuesday with Zane McIntyre once again filling in as the emergency backup goaltender.

Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings against the Senators for Game 1 based on Tuesday’s practice:







C. Miller-K. Miller




The banged up Bruins have two more injured players in Nash, McQuaid

The banged up Bruins have two more injured players in Nash, McQuaid

BOSTON – It’s another day and another injured player, or two, for the Boston Bruins.

Veteran right winger Rick Nash was a late scratch for the Bruins on Monday night against the Blue Jackets after getting banged up in last weekend’s win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid had to exit due to injury in the third period of Monday night’s 5-4 overtime loss at TD Garden.  

“[Nash] got hit in Tampa, so we thought he was fine. He had an upper-body injury,” said Bruce Cassidy. “This morning, pregame skate, we thought he’d be fine, and it turned out after pregame skate, early afternoon, he wasn’t. So, you know, we had to make a call for Anton Blidh.”

The Nash absence forced the Bruins to recall Blidh from Providence on emergency recall and plug him into the lineup not using him in the last couple of road games in Florida, and it also pushed 21-year-old rookie Ryan Donato into a top-6 role alongside David Krejci in his NHL debut. Clearly things worked out for Donato with a 1-goal, 3-point performance in his first NHL game, and that along with some quality organizational depth is helping them withstand some of the injuries.

McQuaid was held to just 10:42 of ice time that was the fewest among all Bruins D-men on Monday night, but it was unclear exactly what befell him on the ice injury-wise.  

It is getting a little ridiculous for a Bruins team that’s missing Patrice Bergeron (fractured right foot), Zdeno Chara (upper body), Jake DeBrusk (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (sprained left MCL), David Backes (right leg laceration) and now may have to go without Nash (upper body) and McQuaid (undisclosed) as well. Clearly it’s something the Bruins will have to play through for the time being while simply hoping that it all conveniently clears up ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

“You know, you call a player up [from the AHL], right? We signed one out of college; that helped. So, that’s it. [The injuries] are uncontrollable to a certain extent. It’s kind of enough, now. I would agree. We’ve had our share, so let’s get these guys healthy and get ready to play,” said Cassidy. “I don’t know. You’ve got to play the game in front of you and you just hope the string of, kind of, tough luck, is over.

“That’s it. It’s a physical game. We’ve said all along, to have successful seasons, both regular and playoffs, you need a certain level of health. That’s what we’re hoping, that these guys come back, and that’s it. Until then, we plug the holes and play the game in front of you.”

Plugging those holes will continue to get more and more challenging if the Bruins keep losing players from their lineup on a nightly basis as they may have on Monday with both Nash and McQuaid now banged up as well.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Donato impresses in NHL debut

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Donato impresses in NHL debut

1:13 - Joe Haggerty joins from the TD Garden to discuss the non-call on Brad Marchand’s breakaway, Ryan Donato shining in his NHL debut, and when Patrice Bergeron could be returning.

6:16 - Gary Tanguay, Mike Giardi, and Trenni Kusnierek debate if the Patriots are starting to replace the talent they’ve lost this offseason as they have acquired Adrian Clayborn, Jeremy Hill, and Jason McCourty. 

11:01 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Boston Sports Tonight to talk about the Celtics continuing to struggle as the injuries have piled up.