Boston Bruins

By Matt Dolloff,

Charlie McAvoy hasn’t quite looked like himself since returning from a knee injury. His up-and-down series against the Toronto Maple Leafs hit a disappointing low in Game 5 on Saturday night.

The Bruins came out slowly in the first period, as the Leafs spent most of the opening 10 minutes in the Bruins’ zone, including the opening goal by Connor Brown. It set a poor tone for a Bruins team that whiffed on an opportunity to bury the Leafs and close out the series, giving themselves some added rest to boot.

Instead, they’ll fly back out to Toronto for Game 6 on Monday. And they’ll need a better effort out of McAvoy and the rest of the team in order to move on to the next round that night.

“Shame on us for not coming out better – having a better first ten minutes there,” McAvoy told reporters after the game. “We knew [the Leafs] were going to come like that, their backs are against the wall, and they’re going to continue to come like that so we got to go back and make sure we’re prepared to start the next game.”

McAvoy was on the ice for two of the Leafs’ four goals, misplaying the puck on both. He let Andreas Johnsson get behind him and allowed a Nazem Kadri pass to sneak through him all the way to the net on the second Toronto goal. And on Tyler Bozak’s second period score, he over-committed to James van Riemsdyk after he gained entry into the Bruins’ zone and lost his position in front of the net. A gassed Brad Marchand also couldn’t get back in time to stop Bozak from putting the puck past Tuukka Rask.

McAvoy also held himself accountable for the four goals allowed by Tuukka Rask, who was pulled in the second period in a similarly off game. The rookie defenseman repeatedly vowed that he and the Bruins would get off to a better start in Game 6 and have a better effort overall.

“Definitely not [Rask’s] fault tonight, so whenever he gets pulled we know that we didn’t do our job, but we’re fine, he’s got our back and we’ve got his,” said McAvoy. “So, we’ll go back to the drawing board and we’re going to play a lot better in front of him next game. Start from the beginning, not just picking up in the second and third and playing good once he’s already out of there and the damage is done, we’re going to come out and play a lot better starting from the get-go.”

The B’s defense certainly has a lot to clean up after the way they played in Game 5. McAvoy and the rest should feel confident that they can correct their issues, and he’s at least cognizant of the corrections that need to be made. And they need to be made in a hurry.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at