Charlie McAvoy avoids ejection for hit to head, but attention now turns to possible suspension

By WEEI 93.7

After the thrill of an Eastern Conference Finals berth wanes for the Bruins on Tuesday morning, the main thought will surround one of their best young players. 

Will Charlie McAvoy be suspended? 

With 20 seconds to go in the second period, McAvoy went to hit Josh Anderson, who'd just crossed over the Bruins blue line. McAvoy's shoulder went straight into Anderson's head, causing the Blue Jackets forward to be down for a while. 

McAvoy only gets two minutes for this. Wow.

— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 7, 2019

It was deemed an illegal check to the head, but just a two-minute minor rather than a major and game misconduct.

"It was a hockey play," said McAvoy after the game. "I tried to finish my check in a legal manner and I was penalized two minutes and I served it and I just came back and tried to be an impactful player. Fortunate enough it was in a winning effort and we're going on to the next round." 

The Bruins will face the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals, but it's unclear if McAvoy will be available to start the series.

Here are the NHL rules on hits to the head, which confusingly seem to indicate that the only options for the refs were a two-minute minor or a match penalty that can only be called if the refs determine there was intent to injure.

On McAvoy: Looking at the NHL rulebook, it appears as though you can't get a major or a game misconduct for an illegal check to the head? Seems ... like a flaw. Match penalty is an option, but only if ref determined there was a deliberate attempt to injure.

— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) May 7, 2019

Bruce Cassidy was pleased with the penalty only being two minutes. 

"I can't see in front of their bench," he said. "I saw the replay. It looks like his elbow was down and went through the body. They called a two minute minor and we killed it off and off we went. In the context of the game, obviously when there's a delay on any call as a coach you're thinking, 'What's the worst case scenario?' going through your head. 

"But at the end of the day, it's like the review. It is what it is. You've got to deal with it and you're just trying to get ready for when the puck drops. That's a little different than a goal review but that's what they called so we were able to kill it off and Charlie played well the rest of the night." 

Nick Foligno wasn't pleased with the hit. 

"I'm not going to go there right now," said Foligno when asked about his thoughts on the hit. "It sucks. You just hate seeing your teammates laying on the ground on a hit that's unnecessary." 

John Tortorella stayed away from talking about it. 

"It was a huge moment," said Tortorella. "But I'm not going to discuss what was told to me." 

McAvoy's been an instrumental part of the Bruins defensive front throughout this postseason. Granted, it would be better for the B's to be without him for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals rather than a Game 7 had they lost Monday night. Nonetheless, it's a huge loss if he does get suspended. 

In the handshake line, it did appear as though McAvoy and Anderson made up. 


— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) May 7, 2019

Update: As anticipated, McAvoy will have a hearing with the Department of Player Safety.

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