Bruins

Charlie McAvoy already a Norris Trophy favorite amid scoring surge

Bruins

Chuck Norris could have a whole new meaning in 2022 if Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy wins the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top all-around defenseman.

He's off to a pretty good start.

McAvoy was the best player on the ice Sunday night as the Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 5-2 in the first game between these historic rivals in 21 months.

The 23-year-old defenseman scored the B's first two goals, including a game-tying tally on the power play in the third period.

In addition to his goals, McAvoy logged a team-leading 23:03 of ice time along with seven shots on goal and three hits. 

One of the areas where McAvoy needed to improve entering this season was contributing more offensively. He's always been a really good playmaker and skater, but some of the raw counting stats were a little below what you'd normally expect from a player of his caliber.

His career-high for points in a single season is 32, which he set in both 2017-18 and 2019-20. McAvoy is on pace to shatter that mark this season. He's tallied 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 13 games, which puts him on pace for 75 points over 82 games. He's probably not going to hit 75 points, but reaching anywhere between 55 and 65 is more than realistic and would be a huge improvement.

McAvoy also has been a bigger contributor on the power play. He's posted six power-play points in 13 games after tallying just eight all of last season. 

 

Scoring Surge

Points
12
Points Per Game
0.92

What's behind McAvoy's increased scoring?

He's shooting more pucks, for starters. He's at 29 shots through 13 games, and that puts him on pace to exceed his career-high of 101 shots in a single season by about 80. When you shoot pucks with a higher frequency, not only do you have more chances to score goals -- and McAvoy already is just two off his goals total from last season -- you create rebound opportunities for teammates and just force the opposing team to work harder overall. 

"I think it's something I'm trying to do more," McAvoy said of his increased shots. "I feel like sometimes I'll have a game where I'll reflect on it afterwards and think to myself, 'Hey, you gotta shoot the puck more.' And then I'll make it my focus the following game to just shoot -- not force anything but just have a shot-first mentality.

"I think the onus is on myself to continue to (shoot more) and not wait for games when I'm overpassing before I have to dial it back and shoot more. Tonight was good, just to shoot it and see it go in."

The Bruins account for an impressive 55.05 percent of all shot attempts, 60.94 percent of all shots on net, 62.4 percent of all goals scored and 54.02 percent of all scoring chances when McAvoy is on the ice during 5-on-5 play, per Natural Stat Trick.

Whether it's creating offense, driving puck possession or defending the opponents' top-six forwards, McAvoy does it all at an elite level.

He finished fifth in Norris Trophy voting last season, and mediocre scoring stats likely prevented him from being a finalist for the award, but he should have no such problems this year.

The last Bruins defenseman to win the Norris was Zdeno Chara in 2008-09. It was ludicrous that he didn't win it again in 2013-14. McAvoy will break that Norris drought for the Bruins at some point in his career, and given his play to begin the season, he might win it next summer.