???? @CMcAvoy44 on the #NHLBruins Game 6 win: "We come together when it matters...Patrice stepped up big time tonight [before the game]...it was exactly what we needed...when he talks you listen." pic.twitter.com/ykkAxhZvCe
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) June 10, 2019
By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Charlie McAvoy has become such a good player so quickly, you forget sometimes that he's still just 21 years old. He's only been legally allowed to drink alcohol for six months. So it's understandable that the Bruins defenseman would be fighting through a whirlwind of emotions in his first Stanley Cup Final.
McAvoy let some of those emotions out after the Bruins crushed the Blues 5-1 in a do-or-die Game 6 on Sunday night. He had a little trouble finding the words to describe the win, how the Bruins prepared for it, and what lies ahead in the series. Because it's a bit challenging to distill such a grueling series and emotional season-saving win into a single soundbite.
But tell me the Bruins don't want to run through a wall for this kid, and that he would do the same for his teammates.
"We're a family, we believe in each other and we all love each other. Just the thought of it being over tonight was terrifying," McAvoy said. "We've come all this way. We come together when it matters, and I think tonight was just a good example of that. We're thankful. We're blessed with a chance to play in Game 7 now. So it's going to be the same thing. I mean, it's a lot. (laughs) It's a roller coaster. You've just got to ride it."
McAvoy also credited Patrice Bergeron with giving the team an inspiring speech at some point between Game 5 and Game 6. The big question heading into the game was whether Bergeron and his line would really let their season end with a whimper, and clearly he wasn't going to let the Bruins bow out on the road before getting to a Game 7.
Bergeron is more of a lead-by-example type than a guy who pumps the team up with rousing speeches, so clearly it was striking for McAvoy and the rest of the team for No. 37 to speak up like he apparently did before Game 6. But McAvoy did say the Bruins got the speech "when we needed it" when asked about the timing of it, so it's possible it happened between periods on Sunday.
"It was exactly what we needed, it was an element of what the dream was growing up - everyone of us shared the same dream," McAvoy said. "We were all a little kid once and we all wanted this, and I think it was just an element of savoring this moment and not letting it end tonight. It was exactly what we needed. He stepped up.
"When he talks, you listen."
McAvoy himself had his best game of the series on Sunday. He led all Bruins skaters with 20:58 of 5-on-5 ice time, and the Bruins controlled possession with him out there (22-to-13, a 62.9 percent rate). He also led the team with five hits. The biggest difference in McAvoy's game on Sunday was the extra gear he found with his speed and physical edge. Clearly he was sick of the Blues pushing him around like they had in previous games.
It made a massive difference for the Bruins for McAvoy to dictate the game while on the ice, rather than the Blues taking it to him. Bergeron deserves a smidge of credit for perhaps unlocking that extra gear. If McAvoy can find that level one more time in Game 7, it'll be that much harder for the Blues to take the Cup on Wednesday.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. 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 [email protected].