BOSTON – It was the kind of play that Charlie McAvoy made routinely in the first half of the season, and it was a welcomed sight on Tuesday night as it helped set up the game-tying goal in the second period.
The 20-year-old picked up an assist on Boston’s second goal of the game in an eventual 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames, and it was clearly significant for its time and place in the game.
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But it was also about McAvoy snapping a six-game scoreless stretch with his first point since Jan. 20, and securing his first point since undergoing a much-discussed heart ablation procedure at the end of January. On the play McAvoy intercepted a TJ Brodie clearing attempt at the neutral zone, and simply carried the puck straight to the net before drawing defenders and then creating passing lanes for himself and Tim Schaller to set up Riley Nash’s second score of the game.
McAvoy admitted it’s been a process regaining his game at full speed while jumping on the NHL regular season train at midstream, but it certainly looks like things are again falling into place for the brilliant rookie D-man.
“I don’t want to say you lose a step, but whenever you’re not playing and you come back you kind of have to re-adjust yourself so you can get to where you feel like you left off. Especially when you leave
off on a good note and you come back and right away you want to pick up where you left off…it’s easier said than done,” said McAvoy. “Guys come back from injuries every day in this league and, you know, it’s definitely hard to get back in to that game pace.
“So I’m continuing to feel better and starting to feel good. I’m just going to continue to ride it, keep getting better every day, keep staying up, staying energized and just keep playing good.”
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McAvoy finished with the aforementioned assist and a game-best plus-3 in his 18:27 of ice time, fared very well under the fast and physical Calgary attack and feels like he’s pretty much back to normal at this point. He’s been back with one point and a plus-5 rating in six games since coming back from the procedure, and has topped 20 minutes in three of those six games for an impressive show of endurance since making his return.
“That’s just composure, smarts and then the ability to see the ice once you get over the blue line and force their ‘D’ to commit away from the net, and all of a sudden, we finished. Well, too, obviously, [Tim] Schaller making the play to Nash,” said Bruce Cassidy. ‘Then, moving pucks up ice, and he had to be hard against good players again tonight, too.
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“That’s essentially what we asked our group to be after the first period; let’s just play hard, get back to competing harder, winning pucks, getting there first. If you’re not getting their first, arrive ornery, and I thought we did a good job with that.”
McAvoy continues to work hard and make an impact as a game-changing rookie on the back end for the Bruins, and the good news is that Tuesday night’s big offensive flash is a harbinger of good things to come for the Black and Gold.