Bruins

Bruins hoping to see more shots out of Charlie McAvoy

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Bruins hoping to see more shots out of Charlie McAvoy

TORONTO – Charlie McAvoy has been nothing short of outstanding in his first month of NHL duty.

The 19-year-old is the only NHL rookie averaging north of 20 minutes of ice time per game, he’s already logging penalty kill duty and facing the other team’s best players in a partnership with Zdeno Chara and he’s got a solid eight points of production in 14 games thus far. 

He’s a minus player right now which is clearly something to work on, and he’s taken a couple of penalties along the way as well. But perhaps the biggest area where the Bruins would love to see growth from right now is McAvoy rearing back and shooting the puck, something that can create offense when he does pick his spots with his hard, heavy and accurate shot.

“Things happen quickly out there, and we trust his instincts and his vision. What you see is how you make the play, but, yes, we’d like to see him get more pucks to the net,” said Bruce Cassidy of McAvoy, who is on pace for a pretty solid six goals and 47 points as it is right now without any further shooting frequency. “I think it’s something that will gravitate to his game over time. I don’t think that’s something that will happen overnight, when you’re a certain type of player. We see with a lot of different guys where we’re overpassing, and we could shoot more often. We’re working on it.”

McAvoy was joined by both Torey Krug and Patrice Bergeron in that category in the third period vs. the Rangers on Wednesday night, as both premier offensive players passed up good looks at the net in favor of passes that never connected.

McAvoy didn’t have a single shot on net in either of Boston’s last couple of games, and has just one shot on net in his last four games. He’s talented enough to be a bigger factor on offense with more tries at the net per game, and then that can be added to his aggressive physicality and all-around workhorse game that he brings to the table.

It’s certainly something that the youngster knows could be another component to an already impressive all-around game.

“I think shooting the puck is something I want to do. It’s something where if a guy is open and he’s giving me the pass option I am going to make the play, and in that respect, I can be a pass-first guy,” said McAvoy. “But I’ve been talking to [Bruce Cassidy] about it, and he’s very good at expressing that he’d like to see me shoot the puck more. It’s something I want to do and it’s something I know I can do more. I just want to get more pucks to the net.”

What better place than Toronto for a multi-skilled player like McAvoy, with a seemingly endless amount of talent, to start generating a little more offense by throwing a little more rubber at the net? 

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TALKING POINTS: Tuukka Rask leads Bruins to Game 4 victory

TALKING POINTS: Tuukka Rask leads Bruins to Game 4 victory

GOLD STAR: Got to give it to Tuukka Rask, who made 31 saves overall and stopped 21-of-22 shots in the first couple of periods while the Bruins were getting their footing after the news that Patrice Bergeron wasn’t going to play. He stoned Patrick Marleau on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush in the first period, unlike the ones he scored on twice in Game 3, and made another save on a breakaway in the second period just before the Bruins were able to break the tie. There were plenty of moments early in the game when the Bruins were hemmed in or having difficulty generating any kind of offensive possession, and Rask was their best player through all of it. We’ve often said that Rask has to prove it in big games, and this may prove to the biggest game of the first-round series against the Maple Leafs. Rask was at the top of the list for getting it done for the Black and Gold tonight.

BLACK EYE: The Leafs actually played a pretty good game all things considered, but if you need to pin some blame on somebody, then give it to William Nylander. He played on a top line that got outplayed by Riley Nash, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak when it really mattered. Nylander only had one shot with most of his attempts coming from a good distance away from the net. He was a minus-2 and hasn’t really showed much of anything in the series to date. At least Auston Matthews was winning face-offs, generating offense and was a threat early in the game, but Nylander didn’t really do much to make himself noticeable in a gritty, hard-fought game that meant a ton to both teams. It’s indicative of a Leafs hockey club that probably needs to mature a little bit before they’re ready to truly make a deep run in the playoffs.

TURNING POINT: Clearly it was the Brad Marchand goal in the second period, but not because it was a really nice goal. It was because the Maple Leafs probably thought they had the Bruins right where they wanted them after a long shift with an icing and a defensive zone face-off, but instead, the B’s flipped the script on Toronto. They took advantage of a bunch of overeager kids on the ice, as Riley Nash won the draw and Adam McQuaid flipped the puck up the ice, turning it into a 2-on-1 with David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. Pastrnak fed a no-look pass to Marchand for a shot at the vacated net, and the rest was history for the Black and Gold in a game they most definitely needed to win if they wanted to capture the series.

HONORABLE MENTION: Riley Nash didn’t end up on the score sheet, but give him all kinds of credit for stepping up and filling in at the last minute with Bergeron a last-minute scratch from the lineup. It was Nash that won the D-zone face-off after an icing call at the end of a long shift, and he worked the puck to Adam McQuaid for the stretch play that turned into the game-winning goal. In all, Nash played 19:10 of ice time, had a shot on net, a hit, a blocked shot and a giveaway while playing between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. He battled his way to 12-of-25 face-off wins. In actuality, Nash had half the wins in the face-off circle for the entire team and was exactly the kind of solid player Boston needed to step in and have a calming influence on that top line. They weren’t spectacular, but they made the plays when it mattered.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12-5-2 – the Bruins record this season when Patrice Bergeron is out of the lineup, which is a testament to their overall depth and how well Riley Nash has played in his place this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We tried to weather the storm and bring a storm of our own. We got the first goal tonight and that was a big thing. I think every team that’s scored first in the series has won.” –Jake DeBrusk, on the different ways the Bruins have combatted any home-ice advantage while they were in Toronto.

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Bruins capture Game 4 with 3-1 victory over the Leafs

Bruins capture Game 4 with 3-1 victory over the Leafs

TORONTO – It certainly didn’t look good for the Bruins in a pivotal Game 4 when it was announced during warm-ups that Patrice Bergeron would miss the game with an upper body injury.

But the Bruins managed to grind through some of the more difficult points of the game while keeping it a low-scoring affair, and then gashed the Leafs defense in the final 25 minutes of the game for a 3-1 win at Air Canada Centre.

The Bruins scored on the very first shift of the game with Torey Krug launching a long bomb shot from beyond the right face-off circle that managed to sneak by Frederik Andersen. That was the first in another long line of soft goals that have been surrendered by the Leafs netminder during the playoff series. Toronto took control for the rest of the first period while out-shooting the Bruins by a 12-7 margin and tied things up about seven minutes later on another effective shift from the newly configured Leafs second line.

Mitch Marner stripped a puck from Riley Nash by the side boards, and threw a cross-ice feed from his knees to Tomas Plekanec for the one-timer from the inside of the right circle. The score stayed that way for a long time thanks to some outstanding goaltending from Tuukka Rask, who stopped Leafs breakaway chances in both the first and second period while stopping 21 of the 22 shots that he faced.

It didn’t look particularly good for the Bruins when an icing was called toward the end of the second period at the end of a long shift for Boston’s top line, but they somehow turned it into offense. Nash won the D-zone draw to Adam McQuaid, who threw the puck up the boards to David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand breaking out for a 2-on-1 chance.

Pastrnak threw a slick, no-look pass to Marchand after drawing the defense to him, and Marchand buried his second goal of the playoffs for the go-ahead strike. The Bruins were at it again in the third period with David Krejci feeding Jake DeBrusk in another 2-on-1 for his second goal of the postseason as well.

At that point, the Bruins had their insurance goal and hunkered down to take the win and head back to Boston up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series with the hopes that Bergeron will return healthy for Game 5 on Saturday night.

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