WOW, what a game. And we thought this was going to be a boring series!
But we’re not here to talk about that.
For all the questions leading into this game, the defensive depth was a serious concern for fans and media alike. Concern amplified as Colin Miller was forced to leave the game in the second period after knee-on-knee contact from Mark Borowiecki. The answer we were REALLY looking for, however, was how rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy would fare jumping into the playoffs in his first NHL game. And man, did the kid nail it.
Here’s a link to dafoomie’s highlight reel from last night’s game. I won’t refer you to specific points, since I know you probably want to watch the whole thing anyways. In just the first minute, there’s evidence of McAvoy doing several things right - being in position as Ottawa comes at Chara with the puck, being available for and receiving the swing pass, moving the puck up ice, threading a quick pass through the neutral zone to Bergeron, and taking a hit to send the puck. (Come back here after you’ve relived the game through dafoomie’s video. I’ll wait.)
All of these actions were repeated elsewhere in the game - McAvoy withstood a hit to make a pass several times, and the passes were fairly accurate. He was not sheltered by ice time or zone starts and played nearly half the game, to the tune of 24+ minutes. He stepped right in on the first power-play unit, and looked comfortable distributing the puck - my only complaint would be that he didn’t make many shot attempts from the point, but that’s admittedly greedy, and he didn’t shoot because there wasn’t a lane to the net.
Now, some folks out there might be a little disappointed that Charlie didn’t factor on the scoresheet, but let me assure you. He did. And, he will in a more whole-number way sooner rather than later. No points for Mac Attack isn’t the whole story; he played with poise, skated well, and positively affected Boston’s offensive zone time. He blocked shots, helped the Bruins crack the 1-3-1 a few times, and generally looked like he belonged; not an easy feat when your first taste of the NHL is a playoff game. While it may have been out of necessity, McAvoy’s addition to the Boston blue line seems to be a natural fit.