BOSTON – The Bruins finally issued an update on 20-year-old Charlie McAvoy, and it's a case of both good news and bad news for the game-changing rookie D-man. The fortunate development is that McAvoy’s season isn’t done with a diagnosed left MCL sprain, and that he should be ready to return right around the time that the Stanley Cup playoffs begin in roughly five weeks.
The bad news is that the four week recovery time means the injury isn’t the mildest version possible of an MCL sprain, and any setbacks or slow recovery from the injury could potentially spill over into the first round of the postseason. That would be a difficult proposition for the Bruins, who have enjoyed a Calder Trophy-level season from their rookie D-man with seven goals, 32 points and a plus-26 in 59 games this season to go along with a workhorse-like 22:10 of ice time per game. As it’s stated in the Bruins press release, McAvoy’s left knee will be re-elvaluated in four weeks and his ability to jump in ahead of the postseason should be more clearly defined at that point.
As it is right now, the Bruins are going through a hellish month of March without their best player in Patrice Bergeron, their best rookie in McAvoy and currently without their No. 1 goaltender in Tuukka Rask as he’s not starting for the second straight game with a “minor lower body injury.” Brandon Carlo will be stepping into McAvoy’s top pairing spot alongside Zdeno Chara during 5-on-5 play, but Bruce Cassidy indicated it’s going to take a village to replace the multi-dimensional young defenseman in the short term.
“It’s like when we lost Bergeron, we have to do it by committee on the back end with Charlie’s workload,” said Cassidy. “Brandon [Carlo] is going to step and have the matchups right away…kind of like Riley Nash [in Bergeron’s spot] in 5-on-5 play. On the power play, Nick Holden when he was acquired had some of that on his resume. Maybe a little more falls on [Matt] Grzelcyk or a fourth forward.
“What we’re going to try and do is not ask one player to try and replace Charlie. It will be different guys. On the penalty kill we had other guys ahead of Charlie. He did a good job on it. Don’t get me wrong. But we have [Zee], Kevan [Miller], Carlo and Adam [McQuaid], so that part of it becomes a little easier to manage.”
Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. the Detroit Red Wings based on Tuesday morning skate at TD Garden with Bergeron, McAvoy, Rask and Noel Acciari all out of the lineup: