Bruins

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

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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.

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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.  

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Zdeno Chara joins Patrice Bergeron in admirable action this week while attending Boston protest

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Zdeno Chara joins Patrice Bergeron in admirable action this week while attending Boston protest

The Boston Bruins leadership group has shown they are about more than simple lip service and social media posts when it comes to what’s been going on in this country over the last few weeks.

Patrice Bergeron made a $50,000 donation to a pair of worthy causes this week in the Boston branch of the NAACP and Centre Multiethnique de Quebec while releasing a lengthy, passionate statement through the Bruins.

B's captain Zdeno Chara was spotted in all his 6-foot-9 glory walking in Boston on Friday afternoon during one of the protests through the city streets while sporting a Bruins mask in the crowd.

None of this is a surprise as both the 43-year-old Chara and the 33-year-old Bergeron have fostered a welcoming, friendly environment in the Bruins dressing over the years. The Bruins veterans don’t even really use the word “rookie” because Chara has always believed that it creates unnecessary separation between younger and older teammates that shouldn’t exist in a team setting.

Bergeron is partially credited with helping pull a black teammate named Gemel Smith out of a mental funk that he was mired in during his time with the Bruins. Bergeron urged Smith to talk to somebody professionally when he sensed that something wasn’t quite right with his new teammate and it helped Smith turn things around personally and professionally when he was with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season.

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Smith ended up playing just three games with the Bruins last season after being picked up on waivers, but even in that brief time Bergeron had managed to reach out and make a connection with the player that made a lasting impact. That’s exactly the kind of healthy, welcoming dressing room that’s made the Bruins a success over the years.

There isn’t a long history of black players with the Bruins in recent years as Smith, Jarome Iginla and Malcolm Subban are the only black NHLers to suit up with Boston over the last decade. So there haven't been a great deal of opportunities for Bergeron, Chara and the rest of the B’s leadership core to show just much they embrace the diversity and equal treatment for all that so many around the NHL are voicing in the days since George Floyd was horrifically killed by Minneapolis police officers.

But give full credit to both Bergeron and Chara for stepping up this week, representing the Bruins in a manner they would be proud of and showing that it’s about actions as much as -- if not more than -- words when it comes to promoting equal treatment for all, and a better tomorrow for people of all races and backgrounds.

Breaking down the winners and losers of NHL 24-team season return format

Breaking down the winners and losers of NHL 24-team season return format

The NHL has their 24-team postseason format and they’ve even drilled down on some of the specifics this week.

We still don’t know exactly when the Stanley Cup postseason can start or when NHL training camps would be going full speed ahead. Also, all of the matchups beyond the “qualifying round” are still very much in the air.

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Clearly there is still plenty we don’t know about the Stanley Cup Playoffs once the NHL presses the play button in the next few months.

But we do know enough about the proposed postseason to know who will benefit, and who will be getting the short end of the stick. So that’s enough to put together the always popular winners and losers list when it comes to the new NHL postseason format. 

Click here for the gallery.