The first half of this season, Charlie McAvoy really struggled to be the player the Boston Bruins expected him to be. Lately he’s been back with a vengeance.
However, ever since he finally netted a first goal for the campaign, Charlie McAvoy has been playing like a man possessed. It’s coincided with one of the Boston Bruins better spells of defensive form (ignoring that 9-3 result in Vancouver).
In the Bruins’ past 10 games, they’ve conceded 1 or less goals on six occasions, including a shut-out against the New York Islanders a couple of days ago. Charlie McAvoy has been at the heart of some of those performances.
Seeing a recent high of 25:03 ice-time against our closest divisional rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning; it’s clear that McAvoy has very firmly put himself back in the spot of being the team’s number-one defenseman or at the very least, the rightful successor to the position.
By comparison, the Bruins’ team captain and a player well-known to absorb considerable minutes even in his forties, Zdeno Chara, saw a whole 2 minutes less, finishing the night with 23:04.
His Corsi For of 54.17% in the Tampa game could easily be considered elite considering the strength of opponent he was facing; Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat are hardly the sort of guys it’s easy to prevent from having puck possession and scoring chances. Those three led the Tampa Bay forwards in ice-time at all strengths spent against Charlie McAvoy.
What’s more; McAvoy, since breaking his scoring duck, now has 4 goals in the past month, as well as doubling down with the number of helpers he’s offering up; a quarter of his assists this year also came following his goal drought finally breaking.
With the exception of three games (Minnesota, Edmonton and Vancouver) in February, Charlie McAvoy has an expected Goals Against of under 1 per game in all other games. That while facing often the strongest opposition line and nearly always seeing time on the penalty-kill.
Given how stacks those odds are against him, it’s truly remarkable that he isn’t expected to be on the ice for far more conceded goals.
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It speaks to great line-mates and strong goaltending of course, but also great maturity in a guy who is still a very young NHL defenseman for the Boston Bruins.
Moving forward, the team will hope for more of the same as it frees up the Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug pairing to move into the offensive zone more; perfect for an offensively-gifted defenseman like Krug.
To be able to consistently perform the way he does despite being just 22 years old, it’s fair to say the sky is the limit for McAvoy and regardless of a rough patch to start the year, he truly is one of the more unnoticed elite defensemen in the NHL right now.
Statistics courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.