One area where Charlie McAvoy needed to improve entering the 2021-22 NHL season was his scoring output, and the Boston Bruins' top defenseman has not only done that through the first 28 games, he's on pace to shatter career highs.
McAvoy has always been a tremendous offensive player. He's someone who jumpstarts the transition up ice with quick decisions and accurate passes out of the defensive zone. He has the ability to quarterback a power play. His playmaking skills are fantastic. And he's got a pretty accurate shot, too.
These impressive offensive talents didn't translate into high scoring totals through his first four seasons, though. McAvoy's career-high in points is 32, which he set in 2017-18 (63 games) and 2019-20 (67 games).
The 24-year-old defenseman is on pace to far exceed that total this season.
He's already tallied 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) through 28 games. This total includes eight power-play points, which matches his career high. If you look at McAvoy's per 60 minute rates, he's performing above last year's totals in just about every notable metric.
McAvoy's offensive game was on full display over the weekend when the Bruins beat the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday and the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.
Boston's top defenseman assisted on three of the team's four goals against Buffalo. He scored a goal and picked up another assist against the Red Wings. On his goal, he recognized an open lane, drove hard to the net and scored on a beautiful finish.
McAvoy hasn't just taken his scoring output to a higher level, he's also helping the Bruins dominate puck possession and create more scoring chances than the opposition.
The Bruins are a plus-131 in shot attempts, a plus-122 in shots on net, a plus-58 in scoring chances, a plus-37 in high-danger chances and a plus-16 in goals scored during McAvoy's 658:24 of 5-on-5 ice time through 27 games. The B's also have a .921 save percentage with McAvoy on the ice, better than their .912 overall save percentage.
McAvoy finished fifth in Norris Trophy voting last season, and it wouldn't be surprising if he was a finalist for the award in 2022. He continues to elevate his performance, take on even more responsibility and dominate in all three zones. McAvoy is showing why the Bruins signed him to the largest contract in team history back in September.