McAvoy 'really excited' for homecoming against Rangers


McAvoy 'really excited' for homecoming against Rangers

NEW YORK CITY – Charlie McAvoy is always at his best in the big moments, so the sky is the limit for Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers team he rooted for as a hockey-loving kid. The 19-year-old kid has played at MSG a couple of times before, as a youth hockey player and a couple of years ago as a freshman for Boston University, but it will be a whole different level against the Blueshirts with a countless number of friends, family and Rangers fans ready for a solid rivalry game.

McAvoy is counting on a few more Black and Gold converts in the MSG crowd based on the group he’s bringing to the game.

“It’s going to be really special. It’s a game that I’ve really been looking forward to. Anytime you get to come home and play in a building that you grew up going to games, it really means a lot. I’m excited for tonight,” said McAvoy. “I don’t know if I can put a number on how many [friend and family] are coming, but the support has been awesome. I’ve had a lot of texts from good family and friends, and it means a lot to me.


“A lot of Rangers are going to be turning Bruins fans tonight, which I appreciate. I’m really, really excited.”

The big stage at MSG might be a bit of a concern for most rookies just a month into their NHL career, but McAvoy has already proven in his brief Bruins career that he’s not “most rookies” while playing to exceptionally high standards. In just a month’s time he’s become a big part of the top defenseman pairing with Zdeno Chara, he’s only the rookie in the entire NHL averaging over 20 minutes of ice time per game and he’s also kicked in plenty of offense from the back end with a goal and eight points in 13 games this season.

Given all of that, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is actually interested to see what McAvoy will bring to the table against the Rangers team he adored growing up, and in front of his family and friends in a big event-type setting. More than being interested, he’s actually looking forward to it rather than concerned it might be too much for the first-year phenom.  

“He’s from the area and it’s a rivalry game at Madison Square Garden. I’d imagine he’s going to be jacked to play, and get out there as long as he doesn’t too much ahead of himself in that regard,” said Cassidy. “I don’t think it really does with Charlie, but even if it does he’s able to reel it in quickly. So I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s got tonight.”

The idea of McAvoy having a little extra vs. the Rangers above and beyond the considerable level he’s already shown this season should have everybody excited to see what No. 73 is capable of in front of a national NBCSN audience at famed MSG. 


Morning Skate: Blackhawks fans ejected for racist chants

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Blackhawks fans ejected for racist chants

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while blown away at the amount of money that Black Panther is going to make this weekend. 


*An ugly incident in Chicago where Blackhawks fans were chanting racist garbage at Devante Smith-Pelly as he served out a penalty during the Caps visit to Chicago. Hockey fans are better than this. Everybody should be better than this. Here’s the statement from the NHL released on Sunday morning, and I sure hope those four fans ejected are never allowed into the United Center again after embarrassing their NHL team, and their city: 

 "Last night in Chicago, individuals directed racial taunts and abuse at Washington Capitals player Devante Smith-Pelly," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "The National Hockey League condemns this unacceptable and reprehensible behavior. The League fully supports the actions taken by the United Center and the Blackhawks to eject the offenders and would expect the same response to any similarly unacceptable behavior at any of our arenas.

"While this incident was isolated in nature, no player, coach, official or fan should ever have to endure such abuse at one of our games. The League will take steps to have our clubs remind all stakeholders that they are entitled to enjoy a positive environment - free from unacceptable, inappropriate, disruptive, inconsiderate or unruly behaviors or actions and may not engage in conduct deemed detrimental to that experience."


*The Hockey Night in Canada crew goes over the latest in rumors, including the NHL expansion into Seattle and the unclear situation still developing with Erik Karlsson in Ottawa. 


*Eric Staal deserves plenty of credit for the success of the Minnesota Wild after he’s been reborn as a player since going to Minnesota a couple of years ago. 


*Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray wants the prices to come down for potential deadline deals, and certainly they will to some degree ahead of the Feb. 26 trade deadline. 


*The Dallas media is certainly getting worked up about Tyler Seguin, as they’re starting to call him Mike Modano 2.0 as they enter the playoff picture. My prediction: Seguin is on his best behavior this season in his first year under Ken Hitchcock, but a leopard doesn’t truly change his spots. The talent is obviously there in huge amounts if he really wants it, but let’s see what Seguin does when things truly get nasty in the playoffs. 


For something completely different: As I mentioned above, it looks like Black Panther is going to break all kinds of box office records this weekend. Good stuff.



Loui Eriksson elevates game against Bruins

Loui Eriksson elevates game against Bruins

GOLD STAR: Loui Eriksson has been a massive disappointment for the Vancouver Canucks, but he found a way to get some measure of payback against a Boston team that walked away from him in free agency a couple of years ago. Eriksson scored the game’s first goal two minutes into the proceedings when he overpowered Brandon Carlo in front of the Boston net, and then he added insult to injury with a shorthanded goal late in the third period to really put a capper on the blowout. Eriksson finished with the two goals and a plus-2 rating in his 17:18 of ice time, and also found a way to collect four shots on net and three takeaways with his always active stick. Those were the ninth and tenth goals scored during the regular season with Eriksson, who has really been a big Swedish bust in Vancouver to this point.

BLACK EYE: Brandon Carlo finished with a minus-4 rating. Oof. The young Bruins shutdown D-man was clearly struggling early when he was losing battles in front of the net highlighted by Loui Eriksson’s first goal, and he had major issues getting good gap control in a stretch where the Bruins are struggling defensively. It’s really a bit of bad timing for Carlo as his play is dipping right now as he’s been mentioned as a key prospect leading up to the NHL trade deadline. On the good side, Carlo dropped the gloves with Darren Archibald after he threw a questionable hit on David Pastrnak, and continues to slowly-but-surely grow into more of a physical, defensive stopper while learning at the feet of Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually outshot the Canucks by an 18-9 margin in the first period, and had some very good offensive chances turned away when Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak both hit the post in key spots. They had Anders Nilsson and the Canucks on the run based on controlling puck possession and getting some decent offensive chances against a goalie in Nilsson that isn’t a household name. But none of it mattered when Loui Eriksson scored just a few minutes into the first period and started a total defensive collapse that saw the Bruins surrender four goals in their worst period of the year. Through it all the Bruins continue to play hard even when a one-sided result on the scoreboard has pretty much dictated their fate.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jake DeBrusk was really good for the Bruins with his dad, Louie, working between the benches in Vancouver on the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast of the Bruins/Canucks game. DeBrusk had a shot that snapped off the post at the beginning of one of his early shifts, and then DeBrusk clobbered a few more chances at the front of the net as well among his four shots on net in 17:18 of ice time. Perhaps just as impressive DeBrusk turned over three pucks in his night’s work as he was a constant source of energy and attack for the Bruins. If DeBrusk had heard his name in trade rumors over the last couple of days, it certainly didn’t seem like that was really bothering him as he was one of Boston’s best players during the game.

BY THE NUMBERS: 10 – Tim Schaller scored a bit of a garbage time goal in the third period for the Bruins to bust up the shutout, and perhaps just as important Schaller is now a double-digit goal-scorer for the first time in his NHL career. His impressive development curve continues for the Black and Gold.       

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We lost the slot battle in the first period. Not hard enough in that area. I thought we had our legs, but the commitment to defending the front of our net has come and gone lately, and it’s added up to goals scored against us.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN on the common thread in Saturday night’s loss to the Canucks that turned out to be a massive blowout.