The Bruins were dealt their biggest blow yet Tuesday night, with top-pairing defenseman Charlie McAvoy ruled out of action half an hour before a 4-2 victory over the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.
The team dubbed it an upper-body injury for the 23-year-old McAvoy, who did not miss any time in Monday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Flyers, and they had little to offer after the game in regards to the specifics of the ailment.
“There is none,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said when asked if there was any word on McAvoy. “Upper body, day-to-day.”
Well, that’s not good.
Emerging as the Black and Gold’s undeniable workhorse on the backend, McAvoy leads the Bruins in time on ice per game (24:23) this season, ranks fifth in points (22), and his 16 even-strength points are the fourth-most among all Boston skaters. The Bruins also hold a plus-150 shot advantage with McAvoy on the ice at five-on-five, which gives him a league-best 61.8 shots-for percentage among the 120 defensemen with at least 500 minutes of five-on-five play in 2021.
McAvoy was also the only Boston defenseman (and one of just four Bruins overall) to appear in all 35 games this season prior to Tuesday’s absence.
To lose that, and to have no detailed word on his absence, is a bit of a scary thought.
It’s certainly worth noting that McAvoy did take a pounding in Monday’s contest, as he absorbed an uncomfortable-looking hit from the Flyers’ Scott Laughton and later crashed into the Boston net on an attempted break-up.
With McAvoy out, and with Brandon Carlo out on a week-to-week basis, the Bruins rolled out a defense that featured Kevan Miller (fresh off a 20-game absence due to knee discomfort) opposite Matt Grzelcyk on Boston’s top pairing. That move aligned Jeremy Lauzon and Connor Clifton together on the second pairing, while Jakub Zboril and Steven Kampfer made up Boston’s third pairing.
Cassidy tinkered with those groupings before the night was over, too, with Zboril noticeably taken out of the rotation and playing a team-low 12:34 after he was on the ice for both of the Flyers’ goals.
The Bruins will have Wednesday off and hope for better news on McAvoy ahead of Thursday’s game with the Capitals.