Bruins

McAvoy: World Juniors tournament 'my favorite time of year'

bruins_charlie_mcavoy_110817.jpg

McAvoy: World Juniors tournament 'my favorite time of year'

It’s hard to believe that just a year ago Charlie McAvoy was himself in the World Junior hockey tournament putting on a show for Team USA. The Bruins defenseman was a clutch player for USA Hockey while earning Player of the Game honors in the championship tilt where he led the Americans to a gold medal with a two-point, plus-3 performance in the 5-4 shootout victory over Canada.

MORE BRUINS:

McAvoy dominated the seven games played by Team USA en route to capturing gold last winter and the 20-year-old is hoping for the same thing this time as he roots for the Americans off to a good start after beating Canada Friday night in an outdoor game.

“I was really excited to see the tournament get going. This is probably my favorite time of year,” said McAvoy, who is third among NHL defensemen in scoring and leads all NHL rookies in ice time per game by a wide, wide margin of more than four minutes. “I was lucky enough to be on two different [world junior] teams and I made some friends that I’ll have for my entire life. Guys really come together in such a short amount of time and it’s become a bit of a family with USA Hockey. I think that’s one of the big reasons that we have success.

“It’s a very exciting tournament and I’ll be watching as the games get bigger as things move along. I’ll be cheering for them every step of the way.”

McAvoy is rooting on fellow Bruins prospects Trent Frederic, goalie Jeremy Swayman and Ryan Lindgren who are among this year's Under-20 group on Team USA. Clearly, the excitement of the elite tournament brought out the best in McAvoy, who has shown a career-long ability to thrive and excel in the spotlight of playoff games, international play and generally any moment when the game is on the line.

Let's hope watching Team USA in the world juniors can bring some of that big-game level play out of McAvoy as the Bruins travel to Ottawa for a tonight's game against the Senators. McAvoy and the Bruins will be looking to get back on the winning track after a shootout loss in Washington ended their season-high five-game winning streak. 

Bergeron on Game 4: "It's about giving everything we have tonight"

Bergeron on Game 4: "It's about giving everything we have tonight"

TORONTO – Every game in the Stanley Cup playoffs is of great importance obviously, and teams approach each one with the kind of singular focus and intensity that makes for great postseason theatre. But some games within a particular best-of-seven series are more important than others, and Thursday night’s Game 4 at the Air Canada Centre will be one of those kinds of games.

The Bruins are up 2-1 in the series and should still have plenty of confidence based on the offensive chances they’ve been able to carve out again a compliant Toronto defense, even if they were stopped in Game 3 by some bad luck, an appearance by Auston Matthews for the first time in the series and a superhuman effort from Frederik Andersen in the third period of that game. In many ways -- whether it was liming Boston to just one power play or holding down Boston’s top line despite their 22 shot attempts -- it was the Leafs playing at a level they may or may not be able to replicate a few more times in this series.

MORE BRUINS

All that being said, if the Maple Leafs can ride their streaky hot goalie or have Matthews take over a game with his undeniable skill they will head back to Boston tied at 2-2 apiece with two-way forward Nazem Kadri entering back into the series following his suspension. That would be a big swing that certainly could shake the confidence of the Black and Gold, who have looked like the better hockey club through the first three games of the series.

With that in mind, the B’s bench boss was taking the “straight ahead” approach to Thursday night’s pivotal game and not looking to put additional pressure on a result that clearly would make a big difference for either club.  

“We try to play the game in front of us and we’ve done that all year,” said Bruce Cassidy. “It’s Game 4 tonight and we’ll live with the result. We just want to play our game and improve in the areas that we thought we could be better at that Toronto did well. I think offensively we’ve been pretty consistent generating chances. The defensive side of things, there some plays that we need to defend a little better to limit their chances.

“I thought we did a better job of that at home than we did [in Game 3]. Give them credit, they came home and kind of like us they had a lot of energy coming out [of the gate]. So, we need to expect that and match that.”

It’s a much different series if the B’s can once again impose their will on the game, take a decisive 3-1 lead in the series and head back to Boston where they enjoyed two blowout victories over Toronto in the first two games.  The Bruins weren’t shying away from the game’s importance on Thursday night, or how key it will be to keeping the momentum on their side in the series.

MORE HAGGERTY

“There’s a big difference and we all know that. At the same time, we’re approaching this game like we have from the start of the series,” said Patrice Bergeron. “It’s about giving everything that we have tonight. We know last game was about the way they came out and [in Game 4] we’re expecting the same. So hopefully we can handle that better.”

The best guess here: The Bruins offense breaks through against a Leafs defense that hasn’t been able to effectively stop them, Toronto can’t replicate the highly disciplined approach they took in Game 3 and Andersen again becomes a mere mortal that’s given up some soft goals in this series. But if Toronto can play at that high level again for a second straight game, well then, it’s a whole different-looking playoff series that could indeed go the distance as many people predicted at the outset of the seven-game series between Boston and Toronto.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

Morning Skate: Why should missed games disqualify Bergeron from Selke?

Morning Skate: Why should missed games disqualify Bergeron from Selke?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while it was once again snow-flurrying in Toronto this morning on freakin’ April 19. That is obscene.  

*I’ll admit it. I don’t get why some people think Patrice Bergeron should have been pulled from Selke Trophy consideration based on missing 18 games with an injury. Do the missed games mean he wasn’t the NHL’s best defensive forward in the other 64 games? The fancy stats say otherwise, his face-off stats say otherwise, his goal production and plus/minus obviously say otherwise, so this was no reputation vote for No. 37 and his seventh straight Selke nomination. He may cede the actual award to Anze Kopitar based on the games missed, but I’m sorry if you think that William Karlsson (fourth on his own team in D-zone face-offs taken), Mikko Koivu (won slightly more than half of his draws and was a plus-9 for the season), or Aleksander Barkov (again finished just a plus-9 on the season) was a better defensive forward than Bergeron this season. They absolutely were not.  

*Nice gesture from Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis toward the little girl looking for a puck from Brett Connolly, whose video went viral after it happened. Her family will be getting the owner’s seats up against the glass in the next playoff game for the Caps.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz has Martin Jones entering elite goalie territory after backstopping the Sharks to a sweep of the Ducks.

*Props to David Puddy, a.k.a. Patrick Warburton, for convincing his actor alter ego to show up for the Devils/Lightning game to root for New Jersey on Wednesday night. The "D" painted on his chest was a nice touch.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynski gets a lot of mileage out of a Bon Jovi theme for the Mitch Marner/Auston Matthews twosome in Toronto. I think he nails the personality on Matthews in this long read, and obviously their talent as well.

*For something completely different: I’m glad to see that Chris Pratt and Anna Faris are getting on with their lives after the divorce. I thought those crazy kids were going to make it.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE