Bruins

McAvoy finding his game after a bit of a ragged training camp

mcavoy.jpg
File Photo

McAvoy finding his game after a bit of a ragged training camp

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.

MORE BRUINS

“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.  

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

A return for Patrice Bergeron next week viewed as a possibility

A return for Patrice Bergeron next week viewed as a possibility

BOSTON – It looks like the Bruins might be getting Patrice Bergeron back sooner rather than later.

Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Bergeron will be on the ice with the Bruins on Wednesday as a normal participant in practice and is being looked at as a possibility to potentially return to game action at the end of next week. Bergeron will miss his 14th straight game on Sunday when he sits out the Bruins/Sabres tilt at TD Garden, and has been out with a rib/sternoclavicular injury since Radek Faksa rode him into the boards in a Nov. 16 loss in Dallas.

MORE BRUINS

Bergeron resumed skating on his own earlier this week and should return to his customary role centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak when he does indeed get back into the Black and Gold’s lineup.

“I think Bergeron will practice with us [next week],” said Cassidy, who indicated that Bergeron skated again on Sunday morning ahead of. “We’re hoping he’ll skate with the team. Whether that means he’ll play Thursday, Saturday or Sunday, I don’t know. But at least he’s one step closer. We’re hoping that’s how it will play out.”

Bruce Cassidy indicated that 41-year-old Zdeno Chara is a little behind Bergeron in terms of his timetable recovering from his left MCL injury, but the expectation is that both players would return sometime around the Christmas holiday. While David Krejci has done a remarkable job while centering Marchand and Pastrnak over the last two weeks with three goals and seven points in the last five games, it goes without saying that a return of Bergeron would be a massive lift in all facets of the game for the Black and Gold.

It would also mean that the Bruins have managed to tread water and stay alive in the playoff picture during the dark period when Bergeron and Chara went down with serious injuries in back-to-back games. It will be interesting to see how much better they can be when No. 37 returns and Boston’s starts getting back toward their full strength lineup, something that hasn’t been seen on the ice in a long, long time. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Gary Roberts: "I would love to come back for a few shifts against [Brad] Marchand"

Gary Roberts: "I would love to come back for a few shifts against [Brad] Marchand"

Brad Marchand has plenty of enemies around the rest of the league, and players that would love to get a piece of him given his actions on the ice.

Apparently that extends to former NHL players as well as former Toronto Maple Leafs tough guy Gary Roberts said he’d love to return to the league just to get a piece of No. 63 for the Boston Bruins. Marchand, of course, had his share of run-ins with the Maple Leafs during the playoffs last season including the licking incident with Leo Komarov both during the regular season, and then again in the playoffs as well.

MORE BRUINS

The 52-year-old Roberts was asked half-jokingly about a return to the NHL after last playing for Tampa Bay way back in 2009 – a year before Marchand became a regular with the Black and Gold – and without prompting went right to a mention of the B’s top left winger.   

“I would love to come back for a few shifts against Brad Marchand. He’s made himself into a heck of a hockey player. Love the way he plays…100 percent. I just don’t like the sideshow stuff that he does,” said Roberts during an interview with the Leafs Lunch show on TSN 1050 in Toronto. “I don’t think there’s a place for stuff like that in the game. If somebody is allowed to act that way on the ice then somebody [else] should be allowed to do something about it. Unfortunately that’s not the case.”

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Roberts had over 2,500 penalty minutes in his long, distinguished NHL career as a player with both skill and brute force, so chances are that Marchand was going to steer clear of a player like that regardless of the era. But it’s a credit to Marchand’s rabble-rousing ways that he can even manage to annoy and agitate the guys that haven’t even played in the league in the last 10 years right along with the current rank-and-file at the NHL level.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE