Boston Bruins

The Bruins began and ended a thrilling Game 4 comeback win without both their No. 1 and No. 2 defensemen.

Still without Hampus Lindholm after he took a heavy hit from Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov in Game 2, the Bruins arrived to the rink Sunday with word that Charlie McAvoy would be unavailable to the club after landing in the NHL’s COVID protocol. It was certainly enough to make you wonder if the Bruins were officially too thin on their backend, but with a tied series heading back to Raleigh for Tuesday’s Game 5, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy offered what he could on each player.

“We knew this morning that something might be amiss,” Cassidy said of the McAvoy situation. “We found out before warmup that he was going into [COVID] protocol. So that’s how we handled it. We had Josh Brown ready to go, we adjusted our power plays in case. So, he’s in protocol, so when he comes back? When he’s out of protocol. How does he get out of protocol? I honestly don’t know if he can test his way out or if he just has to wait a certain amount of days.”

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It’s worth noting that the NHL stopped daily testing of players after the All-Star break, so this positive test came as a result of McAvoy showing or reporting symptoms, which required a test that ultimately came back positive. This would more than likely mean that this isn’t a simple testing issue for the Boston defender. And as such, the Bruins and McAvoy would have to follow league rules, which state that a player or staff member who tested positive must remain in isolation for at least five days since the start of their symptoms.

This would rule out McAvoy for Game 5, but open the door for a possible Game 6 return. But Cassidy didn’t want to touch anything in regards to a specific timeline or return just yet.

“I think the best thing for us, honestly, is [for the team] to give you an update on that because I’m going to be speaking out of turn,” Cassidy admitted. “Let’s hope Charlie comes out of it well, first of all, and feels fine and we get him back in the lineup as soon as possible. But when that is, I’m not the guy to answer that and I assume our team will give you a statement on that if they have any information.”

McAvoy’s loss is an obviously devastating one for the Bruins, as the Norris contender entered Sunday’s game leading the Bruins in nightly time on ice at 25:15 (and with a nearly seven-minute advantage over the next closest defenseman), and had two assists and a team-leading 14 hits through three games played.

But it’s not all bad for the Bruins, as the team may be able to get Lindholm back in action for Tuesday’s Game 5 in Raleigh.

“I believe he skated this morning, [but] I gotta confirm that,” Cassidy said before the game when asked for an update on Lindholm. “He was here yesterday working out, so he’s coming along.

“He’s trending well, so Tuesday is definitely a possibility.”

The next step for Lindholm is to get in a skate with the team, as the Bruins would want to see how he felt skating with a full group and how he felt after that practice.

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