BRIGHTON, Mass – Charlie McAvoy took a major step toward returning to action for the Bruins over the last 24 hours while getting fully cleared medically, and skating with his teammates for the first time on Thursday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.
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The 20-year-old defenseman was cleared for contact and regular hockey activity on Wednesday less than 10 days after undergoing an ablation heart procedure, and said it’s the happiest he’s been to practice in a long, long time.
“I was really excited for that. Getting out there with somebody to pass the puck to and jumping into some high-paced drills and stuff like that, it was a good day,” said McAvoy. “It’s obviously a big step in the process to exert myself and not have to monitor where I’m at…to just play. I got the heart rate up and I feel good.
“The hands, the feet, everything didn’t feel too rusty, which is a luxury for somebody for what I had done. Getting out today was a good step in the direction [toward a return]. You could say maybe this day or that day, but it will really be about when my body says I’m ready to go and the trainers say I’m ready to. I’d rather come back at 100 percent than anything less than that. I want to be able to play good hockey and put our team in a great spot when I do come back.”
McAvoy is obviously ruled out for tonight’s home date against the St. Louis Blues, but Bruce Cassidy wouldn’t rule his rookie defenseman out for a possible return on Saturday against a Maple Leafs team they’re competing with for home ice in the playoffs. Clearly it will be up to how the young D-man’s body responds to practice over the next couple of days, but it’s just a tremendously good sign that it’s even in the discussion at this point.
It also lends plenty of credence to the anecdotal evidence that the vast majority of others with McAvoy’s heart condition/procedure never have another issue with it again after taking care of it early in the process. That’s exactly what McAvoy and the Bruins wanted to see and hear given how bright the youngster’s future is with a B’s hockey club that needs him to be their workhorse for the next decade of Bruins hockey.
Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings with Anders Bjork (upper body) out through the weekend and Noel Acciari (lower body) again out of the lineup on Thursday night against the Blues: