Bruins

Charlie McAvoy continues striving to be just like Drew Doughty

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Charlie McAvoy continues striving to be just like Drew Doughty

BRIGHTON, Mass – When 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy suits up for Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings, he’ll be meeting head-to-head for the first time with one of the NHL stars he models his game after in Kings defenseman and Norris Trophy winner Drew Doughty.

McAvoy has a goal and seven points in eight games this season, and is averaging 20:53 of ice time for the Bruins in his first go-round through the league, so it would seem whatever he’s doing to tailor his game is working.

The teenager has been impressive in his early role as smooth puck-mover and efficient power play quarterback, and will be even more so when he gains greater confidence and assertiveness as a highly skilled, highly dangerous defenseman. McAvoy was given favorable comparisons to Doughty all the way back when he was drafted by the Bruins two-plus years ago, and nothing he’s done since has dampened those early comparisons.

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“There definitely a lot of inspirations in the last generation in the NHL and this generation in the NHL that’s playing right now. There are a lot of guys where I can try to pull things from their game and make it into my own,” said McAvoy. “[Doughty] has achieved the label of what I want over my career, which is a complete defenseman that can kill penalties, play the power play, play a lot of minutes every night and be reliable and responsible while still being able to contribute all over the ice.

“He’s made that name and he has that reputation he can go out and do that. There’s a little bit of a comparison there. He goes out and uses his body in a physical way and that’s something I can definitely do too. He’s somebody I look up and he’s a phenomenal player, and if I can continue to look at different aspects of his game then I’ll be a better player for it.”

It’s perfectly okay that McAvoy will never be an Erik Karlsson-type offensive machine revolutionizing the position or a strict stay-at-home grunt grinding it out on the back end, but should instead be a defenseman with zero weaknesses that can skate, pass, shoot, throw big hits, defend and play a ton of minutes. Those kinds of D-men are worth their weight in gold.

"[McAvoy's got] composure play to break pucks out late in the game. A lot of good things out of him. We’ve got a head start about him [from the playoffs] obviously, but he’s another [rookie] that fits in that category that’s coming along,” said Bruce Cassidy. “As the temperature of the game goes up, his ability to play in those games is what separates him as a young guy. And we need it. If you can put out fires by breaking pucks out of your own end cleanly under a heavy fore-check, you’re going to be a successful team, because you’re going to be on the move the other way and attacking. We’ve got some guys that can finish.”

Much like Doughty, McAvoy has loftier goals than simply topping out as an offensive defenseman racking up points on the power play, avoiding rolling up of his sleeves for the dirty work required by good hockey teams. McAvoy wants to do everything well whether it’s killing penalties, shutting down top lines or throwing his weight around, and he has already begun to show those signs just a couple of weeks into the season. McAvoy has begun pushing into PK duty with Adam McQuaid sidelined with the broken leg, and had a huge block of a teed up slap shot while killing a penalty in the closing minutes of Thursday night’s win over the San Jose Sharks.

It’s that kind of full-bodied, workhorse duty that McAvoy is looking to develop where he can become another Doughty capable of playing in all situations, impacting a game heavily at both ends of the ice and perhaps someday winning a Norris Trophy and leading his team to a Stanley Cup. For now, however, McAvoy will simply be flattered by any comparisons between himself and Doughty, and just keep on maturing and using his growing experience to become the all-around D-man that his talents dictate that he will be.

“There are a lot of people I like to take aspects from. Drew Doughty is one of them. Tyson Barrie is another one I like to watch. I think Kris Letang is an unbelievable defenseman with skating and ability both offensively and defensively,” said McAvoy. “All of these guys are complete players on their teams, they compete in every aspect and they’re all relied on for every situation. Those are the kind of guys I look up to, and it’s really special to be in the same league as them now.”

The long-term plan is for McAvoy to become a true No. 1 defenseman workhorse for the Bruins capable of doing everything on the ice, and that’s exactly the kind of player that will vault the B’s back into a legit Stanley Cup contender. It may be a couple of years down the line before McAvoy completely gets there, but the Bruins have that kind of time as they continue to introduce young talent into their reloading lineup.

The D-man prodigy has certainly begun living up to that billing in his first full month in the NHL, and things like time, experience and good health are going to be the keys for McAvoy truly becoming the Doughty of the next generation.  

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Jakub Lauko ready to be 'humble & prepared' for Bruins training camp

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Jakub Lauko ready to be 'humble & prepared' for Bruins training camp

It wasn’t a slam dunk that 19-year-old Bruins prospect Jakub Lauko was going to play in the QMJHL this past season.

In fact, Lauko admitted he had a lot of reservations when it was first discussed that the best move for the Czech winger would be to come over for North American junior hockey where he could begin to adjust away from the European game.

Lauko wanted to go right to the AHL in Providence after scoring a couple of goals early in his first NHL training camp before suffering an injury in a collision during camp practice with Noel Acciari. Clearly it was the right move for the teenager to head instead to junior hockey for his development, though, and that’s the way things played out for him in a year where he got better as things went along.

It still was tough as Lauko adjusted to a different language and culture over the course of the hockey season, but the top B’s forward prospect had zero regrets when it was all over with this summer.

Lauko didn’t skate at all in Bruins development camp a few weeks ago because his junior season had just wrapped up after Rouyn-Noranda made it all the way to the Memorial Cup, but the Bruins prospect says that his experience in Quebec ended up making him a better player. It also showed him to be a big game player as he led the way with his eight points (two goals, six assists) in the five games it took Rouyn-Noranda to hoist the Memorial Cup.

“I hated it for the first month,” said Lauko, who was playing through a lower body injury toward the end of his team’s postseason run. “But at the end of the season, you just look up and see that you won two trophies. It was the right choice after that. I think I changed a lot as a player. I improved my English, and I think I’m a different player after this season, different person. I’m just happy I made the choice.”

“It was a really big experience for me, through the regular season, playoffs and to the Cup. It was hell of a ride for us and I really enjoyed it. Just happy to have two trophies over my head after.”

He was always pretty good to begin as evidenced by his standout performance at last summer’s development camp, and in last fall’s Bruins rookie training camp as well. The 6-foot-1, 172-pounder has speed, tenacity and goal-scoring ability as evidenced by his 21 goals and 41 points in 43 games for the Huskies during the regular season. Then he poured on six more goals and 13 points in 19 games during the Memorial Cup playoffs and showed off the skill that got him drafted.

Now Lauko heads into his second NHL training camp one year bigger, stronger and more mature in his hockey game. Will he finally get his wish to be in either Boston or Providence this fall where he’s already shown some of the hard-nosed and skilled traits he’ll need to eventually stick at the NHL level?

"I think he came in last year and had a good training camp, he did a real good job of coming over to North America and adjusting a little bit. It was a little bit of a challenge early on. Tough going into Northern Quebec learning English and French at the same time to a degree,” said Bruins Player Development Coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner. “It was tough living-wise for him early on, but his game continued to grow and he played his best hockey at the end of the year. That's what we were hoping for. We will see when September and October comes with him."

Certainly the Bruins could use another top-6 or top-9 winger after they never replaced the departing Marcus Johansson, but it has to be considered a longshot for Lauko with more finished prospect products like Anders Bjork, Peter Cehlarik and Zach Senyshyn in the running for any vacant forward spots.

Whether it’s next season or a couple of years down the road, however, it’s beginning to feel like Lauko is going to be in Boston sooner rather than later. And he will make an impact with his two-way game when he finally does arrive after the Bruins selected him in the third round (77thoverall) in last summer’s NHL Draft.

“It’s hard to say (where I will play this season),” said Lauko, who signed his entry-level deal with the Bruins at the tail end of training camp last fall. “I will go into the year and just try to find a spot in Boston. You never know what’s going to happen. I will just stay positive and whatever happens is going to happen.

"I will just arrive here humble and prepared. I will try to fight for a spot here. If it will not go well, just keep working and try to fight for a spot during the season and next seasons.”

Lauko certainly has the right attitude and he’s got the goods as far as his game goes on the ice. Everybody will just have to wait a few months to see if the 19-year-old has matured enough to the point where he could use those electric skills and tenacity to challenge for a B’s roster spot at a precocious young age.

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Bruins forwards Chris Wagner, Charlie Coyle celebrate five-year anniversary of the Ice Bucket Challenge

Bruins forwards Chris Wagner, Charlie Coyle celebrate five-year anniversary of the Ice Bucket Challenge

In 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge came into existence. The challenge, inspired by former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates and his counterpart Pat Quinn, involves a participant dumping a bucket of ice water on their head while being filmed. During the video, the participant nominates others to join the challenge or forfeit and give a charitable donation to ALS research causes. The challenge was created to build awareness for ALS.

Quickly, the Internet embraced the Ice Bucket Challenge challenge and seemingly everyone was doing it, from average everyday people to Kermit the Frog to Boston-based sports teams. And the challenge reared its head once again on Monday.

On July 15, 2019, a revival of the Ice Bucket Challenge to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the viral sensation took place at Copley Square. And a couple of current members of the Boston Bruins, Chris Wagner and Charlie Coyle, were on hand and spoke about what the challenge meant to them.

"Obviously, it's just such a great cause," Wagner said per the Bruins official Twitter account. "It's a terrible disease. I've seen a lot of people affected by it. You know, family and friends too. Just to be here in support... it's easy for us and the whole thing goes a long way to raising some money."

Meanwhile, Coyle recalled actually doing the ice bucket challenge in his Weymouth-based home and bonding with his friends and family over the event.

"I did it in my backyard with my sister," Coyle said. "It was a lot of fun. And you get to nominate some of your friends, get them involved and it just keeps getting passed on. Like I said, it was just a fun way to do it. Everyone had a good time with it and it was a great idea by these guys."

It's nice to see that Wagner and Coyle are offering their support of this locally-based cause, especially given their Massachusetts-based roots.

And, of course, it was fun to see them participate in the challenge once again, which you can check out at the end of the video below, courtesy of the Bruins Twitter account.


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