Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 18: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins wears a ceremonial patch during the second period in honor of former Boston Bruins player Willie O'Ree as he has his No. 22 jersey retired prior to the game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden on January 18, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

COVID has returned to the Bruins — and at the worst possible time — with Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy ruled out of Sunday’s Game 4 at TD Garden by way of his landing in the league’s COVID protocol.

The NHL is no longer testing all players daily, but they do test when players report feeling sick or under the weather.

Boston’s undeniable top defenseman, McAvoy exits the Boston lineup having averaged the most time on ice per (his 25:15 per night is a staggering 6:50 more than the next closest defenseman), along with two assists and a team-leading 14 hits.

This leaves the Bruins without both their No. 1 and No. 2 defensemen, with Hampus Lindholm still out of action after taking a heavy hit from the Hurricanes’ Andrei Svechnikov in Game 2.

Without McAvoy (and Lindholm) unavailable, the Bruins will roll with a Matt Grzelcyk-Brandon Carlo top pairing. Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton will make up the second pairing, and the third pairing will feature Mike Reilly to the left of Josh Brown.

The Bruins are trying to tie this series up at 2-2.

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