Charlie McAvoy showed Bruins No. 1 defenseman potential in win over Islanders

By WEEI 93.7

A guy from Long Island can’t get a break from the hometown scorers when he’s wearing a Boston sweater.

That’s what you have to figure happened after Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy was felled by a slap shot from New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk at 13:23 of the second period Saturday, but instead of a block for McAvoy the official scorers credited Boychuk with a shot on net.

Sure Tuukka Rask will gladly take the save as part of his 35 of the night, but a guy should get more recognition for such courage.

Not one to be robbed, McAvoy again put his life on the line when he blocked another “Johnny Rocket” with 5:15 left in regulation of a 2-2 game. The two blocks, of which just one was credited officially as part of his four on the night, were just a couple highlights of the 22-year-old’s season-high and team-high 28:43 of ice time in the Bruins’ 3-2 overtime win over the New York Islanders in Brooklyn.

The Bruins needed a No. 1 defenseman-caliber game from their 2016 first-round pick, and he delivered. Against one of the heaviest and stingiest teams in the Eastern Conference, the Bruins lost defenseman Matt Grzelcyk to a lower-body injury two shifts into the game. And Zdeno Chara, playing his first game since sitting onr out with an agitating abscess in his mouth, did not look himself (four giveaways!) in 19:47 of ice time.

Enter stage right the kid from Long Beach, who grew up a Rangers fans, who obviously gets extra juice from facing, and beating, the hated Islanders.

Although you can’t trust the official numbers these days, McAvoy was also credited with five hits in addition to the aforementioned four blocks. And although his goal drought – which we know he’s not too worried about – stretched to 47 regular-season games dating back to last season, he was involved in the offense with one shot on net, two shot attempts blocked and two shot attempts that missed the net.

For the second straight game, he assisted on a Jake DeBrusk goal by getting the puck to the net. This time it wasn’t exactly how the Bruins drew it up, but it was McAvoy that jumped up into the play, gained the zone and fired away toward the goal, where puck deflected off Anders Bjork to DeBrusk for the score that evened the game 1-1 in the second after Boston struggled and fell behind 1-0 in the first.

Eventually John Moore also scored to put the Bruins in front, the Islanders tied it back up and then the Bruins won on Patrice Bergeron’s power-play goal in overtime.

No play, however, epitomized McAvoy’s monster night more than his breakup of a 2-on-1 with score 1-1 in the second period. Chara made an ill-timed pinch and fell to compound the mistake. Brock Nelson tried to set up Anders Lee, but McAvoy’s stick in the passing lane vacuumed up the puck and spit it out of danger.

Great poke check from Charlie McAvoy to break up the Islanders' 2-on-1.

— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) January 12, 2020

Not since Denis Potvin have the Islanders had a defenseman the caliber of what McAvoy might become. He has the potential to have a Potvin-like career that could put him among the pantheon of all-time great Bruins defensemen.

He’s still learning, trying to improve his decision-making and his positioning, looking to get stronger and meaner, and of course trying to pick up his offensive production. But he was all the Bruins needed on Saturday, whether the men controlling the stats wanted to give him full credit for his performance or not.

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