It wasn’t an ideal start to the season for young defenseman Charlie McAvoy, but it looks like things are getting on track for him.
McAvoy suffered through illness while on the trip to China that kind of knocked him off kilter for the majority of training camp, and he started the season as a minus player in the opening night debacle in Washington. Even in the second game against the Sabres, McAvoy missed a handful of shifts after taking a shot off the foot that luckily didn’t sideline him for any longer than a portion of a period.
But the 20-year-old busted out in the home opening win over the Senators with a career-high three assists, and now has four helpers in three games along with a plus-2 rating while averaging 20:54 of ice time per game.
Those are exactly the kind of numbers the Bruins hope and expect to see from McAvoy as he keeps evolving in his second NHL season. For the player himself, McAvoy is finally entering his comfort zone after a preseason and training camp that felt anything but comfortable for a young player preparing for the season.
“Obviously, you set out to be perfect and you want to stick to the things that make you good. I think we did that [against Ottawa] in certain areas. Still you don’t want to give up a couple of the goals we gave up, the one that happened with four guys out there, just avoidable things like that,” said McAvoy. “At the end we score a goal and were playing well and there’s only a couple minutes left and then they got one again.
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“We just kind of straighten out a few things and we could be even better. It’s something to feel good about no question when you go against a team like that that has played well in their first two games, definitely showed they can score, you come up on the right side of that one. It definitely feels good.”
It was “really simple plays” and tipped point shots that made up McAvoy’s three-assist game against the Senators, and those are exactly the kind of simple, smart passes and playmaking that Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy wants to see in McAvoy’s game.
“I thought Charlie was much better [against Buffalo]. He was off to a slow start, and some of that was that he didn’t feel great in China,” said Cassidy. “He didn’t get a lot of reps. I expect Charlie is going to be a very solid player every night and that he’s going to find his game quickly.
“He’s got a lot of price and he’s a good player, so it’s just a matter of keeping the focus on the task at hand and being ready to go when the puck drops. That’s the challenge for a lot of good, young players.”
McAvoy is going to play a ton of minutes in a workhorse role, and simply needs to make good, strong decisions when he’s on the ice, and those will lead to offense more often than not. That kind of game started flowing on Monday afternoon in the win over Ottawa, and there’s no reason to think it’s going to stop anytime soon.