Morning Skate: Vigneault on the hot seat in New York


Morning Skate: Vigneault on the hot seat in New York

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while Halloween is just around the corner. That means the whole world getting to enjoy my buddy Kyle Draper dressed up as Al Horford on the big day.

-- Pro Hockey Talk has the details on former BU standout Clayton Keller as one of the few real standouts for the Arizona Coyotes at this early point in the season. Keller looks like he’s going to be one of the lead dogs in the Calder Trophy conversation if he can remain healthy.

-- Coach Guy Boucher is pleased with the battle level from the Ottawa Senators right now.

-- The play of young defenseman Darnell Nurse has been one of the few real bright spots for the Edmonton Oilers amid a really cruddy start.

-- New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault appears to be on the hot seat as they continue to underachieve early in the season.

-- The Vadim Shipachyov situation continues to feel like everybody needs a fresh start out in Vegas, and has put an unnecessary piece of negative spin on a great franchise start for the Vegas Golden Knights.

-- Here are three trades from this summer that are looking like busts after the first month of the season, including the Blackhawks trading away Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for the oft-scratched Connor Murphy.

-- For something completely different: Boy, you just hope at this point that Webster isn’t wrapped up in this whole thing.

Charlie McAvoy admits 'it's been a battle' trying to find his game in playoffs

Charlie McAvoy admits 'it's been a battle' trying to find his game in playoffs

BRIGHTON, Mass – Clearly there are a couple of Bruins players in the first round series that aren’t quite playing like themselves. 

Patrice Bergeron is definitely one of them after returning from missing Game 4 with an upper body injury, and it would seem that the injury is still affecting him even though he’s still been a pretty decent version of himself. Another of those players is 20-year-old Charlie McAvoy, who simply isn’t the same player he was for long stretches of this regular season or last spring’s playoffs when he averaged 26 plus minutes per game for the Bruins. 

McAvoy has just a single assist along with a plus-2 rating and five shots on net in the six games against the Leafs, and it’s clear at times that he’s struggled to move the puck with the same confidence and assertiveness that he did during the regular season. The lethal first passes to kick start offense haven’t been there and the willingness to carry the puck on his own hasn’t been much of a factor either as he’s quickly getting the puck off his stick.


That’s not like McAvoy at all, and his coach admitted as much on the day leading up to the winner-take-all Game 7.

“I can’t sit here and say physically that he’s impeded right now,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I believe that coming into a playoff series after having not played, you’re playing a little bit of catch-up and he’s still doing that. I don’t think he’s playing with as much confidence as he did last year, obviously, and we have to get him back to that place. He’s a young guy and it doesn’t happen overnight, but sometimes the best message for those young guys is to simplify it, make the easy play and don’t try to do too much.”

McAvoy has insisted, however, that there aren’t any health issues with his left knee after returning from the sprained MCL. Instead McAvoy said he couldn’t get up to speed in the handful of games he played after returning from injury, and the Stanley Cup playoffs is not one of those times when a rookie is going to be able to play catch-up. 

I feel good. That’s the thing. I feel good and I need to just continue to play simple hockey, get my feet moving and do the things that I can to help us come out on top. There are ups and downs, and I knew it was going to be like that coming back [from an injury]. There are times of frustration, and times where you want to make more of an impact. You want to make the plays you were making before you got hurt,” said McAvoy. “But there’s no sense in having that mindset. Medically I’m cleared and I’m good to go, and I want to impact this team. I want to do everything I can to help us win this [Game 7]. 

“This whole series I’ve been trying to play my best hockey and there have been ups and downs. There have been good moments and there’s been bad moments. I thought I was getting my legs going in [Game 6] and starting to move the puck well, and being more decisive. Those are the little things I do so well, but it’s been a battle trying to find my game after coming back and just getting a couple of regular season games. I know these guys have my back, they always do and they always will.”

If McAvoy is indeed healthy and simply looking to find the range with his confidence and puck-moving game, then tapping into it for a big Game 7 performance would be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Black and Gold.