Boston Bruins: Charlie McAvoy Ready to Lead the Defense in 2021

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 04: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins skates with the puck during a game against the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden on February 4, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 04: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins skates with the puck during a game against the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden on February 4, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
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Charlie McAvoy is ready to be the new face of the Boston Bruins defense in 2021.

The biggest blow to the Boston Bruins in 2020 free agency was when defensemen Torey Krug bolted for the St. Louis Blues after nine years with the Bruins. Then factor in captain Zdeno Chara considering retirement instead of returning for a 15th season with the Black and Gold, the blue line will have a different look in 2021.

All of a sudden, the Bruins appear to be turning to their youngsters who have spent the last three years going through the battles of an 82-game regular season, three playoff appearances, and one trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019 against the Blues.

One of the players that coach Bruce Cassidy and the front office will turn to in helping to fill the void left by Krug is Charlie McAvoy.

Since bursting onto the scene out of training camp at the beginning of the 2017-18 season, he has seen a big development in his game, both offensively and defensively.  The 22-year-old is coming off a year in which saw him achieve career-highs in assists, games played, and plus/minus (+/-).

Last season he had 27 assists, in 67 games. More importantly, his game in the defensive end of the ice improved and he finished with a plus-24. He also saw a significate jump in his time-on-ice, which increased by a whole minute to 23:10 a night.

Following the all-star break, he played his best hockey of the year before the season was paused on March 12 because of COVID-19. The 6-foot-0, 208-pound McAvoy began the second half of the season in January with one of the best hits of the season when he ran over Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets in a Bruins’ 3-1 victory.

McAvoy then continued his physical play in the Toronto playoff bubble in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Round series against the Carolina Hurricanes when he sent Jordan Staal to the locker room with a bone-jarring hit in the third period.

Things will look different when the season begins.

Regardless of whether or not Chara returns, there will be a different look on the Bruins blue line when training camp begins at Warrior Ice Arena and the regular season begins in (hopefully) January.

light. Related Story. Bruins Rumors: Zdeno Chara may retire

Replacing Krug’s production is not going to be able to be done by one person, but it will have to a collective effort. McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk will be the top two replacements on the Boston power play to take Krug’s spot on what will be a key unit on the success of the Bruins’ season.

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There also will not be the normal 82-game slate, but more in the area of 56. McAvoy has a chance to be the leader and face of the Bruins defense for years to come. The 2021 season is one where McAvoy can become the leader of the defense for the Black and Gold both on the offensive and defensive ends of the ice.