BOSTON — Charlie McAvoy isn’t the biggest problem with the Bruins offense right now based on the black hole that the Bruins are getting offensively from their second- and third-line forwards over the last couple of weeks.
But the 21-year-old defenseman hasn’t been part of the solution either as the B’s lost a 4-3 shootout to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night little help from anybody offensively that’s not named Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or David Pastrnak.
McAvoy has just one assist in the first seven games of the season, is a minus-2 and has just eight shots on net while averaging a team-high 22:21 of ice time. Certainly, the lack of offense is an issue for a developing young player the Bruins hope can develop into a bona fide No. 1 D-man in the NHL capable of double-digit goals and 50 points per season.
McAvoy is keenly aware that he needs to be an impact player and he hasn’t been that to this point in the season. Some of it is finding that balance between being offensively assertive and defensively responsible, and some of it is about simply shooting the puck more for a guy with top drawer offensive skill on the back end.
“We’d like to start bringing our ‘A’ game and that’s me personally. We’re building it and we’re just going to keep going up,” said McAvoy. “I think I just need to keep pushing and playing mistake-free hockey. I know that’s not possible, but I do the best I can. I’m just trying to contribute when I can and hopefully the offense will break through at some point. But I don’t want to push it in the way that will make me defensively irresponsible. I just need to keep moving my feet and skating. We have a lot of good players on this team so we’ll find it.”
It’s why the Bruins handed him a substantial bridge contract that starts paying him $4.9 million per season and sets him up for a big raise on his next deal three years down the road. But McAvoy needs to develop his offensive game, get dangerous quarterbacking the power play and create much more during even-strength play with his outlet passing and on-ice vision.
Instead right now McAvoy was one of two guilty parties — along with Zdeno Chara — who allowed Brayden Point to sneak behind them in the closing seconds of the first period, and that breakaway goal helped turn the tide in a game they eventually lost in the shootout. So now not only is McAvoy not stepping up enough offensively, but he’s making mental mistakes on the ice that are costing the Black and Gold at the defensive end of the ice.
McAvoy admits that his game isn’t where it needs to be right now, though he’s got company across a Bruins roster that’s been relying far too much on their top three forwards to do everything early in the season.
“It kinds of happens. It comes and goes. I think once we break through, personally I’m hoping to just keep pushing and things will come,” said McAvoy. “First and foremost, I’m trying to be the most reliable player I can be and then those things come. They just do. There’s a ton of hockey left and we’ll find it.”
McAvoy and the most of the Bruins will find it at some point, but they could certainly use a few more players to find their game offensively at a time when they are far too top-heavy with their offensive production.
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