Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 30: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins commits an illegal check to the head against Oliver Ekman-Larsson #91 of the Florida Panthers during the third period at TD Garden on October 30, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy delivered a hit to the Panthers’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson that could land him in trouble with the NHL Department of Player Safety.


UPDATE: Charlie McAvoy has officially been suspended for four games. Read more about the punishment.

Just over two minutes after he’d scored the tying goal in the third period of the Bruins’ comeback win, McAvoy was assessed a match penalty for an illegal hit to the head of Ekman-Larsson. The match penalty meant a five-minute major and an ejection from the game for McAvoy.

According to NHL rules, a match penalty is called when officials determine that the offending player “deliberately” injured or attempted to injure another player.

Here’s a look at the hit in real time, and a slow-motion replay:


  • UPDATE: The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Tuesday that Charlie McAvoy will have a hearing for his illegal hit to the head of Oliver Ekman-Larsson. According to NHL insider Chris Johnston, the hearing is on the phone, an indication that if he’s suspended, it will be for five games or fewer. But it does look like McAvoy is facing a suspension, or a fine of more than $5,000.


    The video clearly shows that Ekman-Larsson’s head/face is the principal point of contact when McAvoy hits him, and the puck was long gone at that point. Ekman-Larsson got back up on his own and headed to the locker room after the play. Panthers head coach Paul Maurice told reporters that Ekman-Larsson will be reevaluated on Tuesday.

    “I saw it live. I haven’t looked at it in depth,” said head coach Jim Montgomery, when asked about the hit. “You know, the league reviews all those hits, and they’ll let us know what their thoughts are. And we respect how the league goes about it. I think they do a real good process there.”

    McAvoy was not made available to the media after the game.

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 30: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins commits an illegal check to the head against Oliver Ekman-Larsson #91 of the Florida Panthers during the third period at TD Garden on October 30, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 30: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins commits an illegal check to the head against Oliver Ekman-Larsson #91 of the Florida Panthers during the third period at TD Garden on October 30, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    The only argument one could have about this hit was whether it deserved to be called a match penalty. It’s unclear if there was really any malicious intent on the part of McAvoy, as far as targeting the head. But it’s certainly a reckless play and a blindside hit, the kind that NHL Player Safety is always working to eradicate. Not to mention, a bad penalty to commit at that stage of the game.

    So, it would not be surprising if McAvoy ended up being hit with a suspension. Hard to believe he’ll get away with running his shoulder through a guy’s face, regardless of intent.

    On the bright side, McAvoy scored the game-tying goal en route to a 3-2 overtime win over the Panthers. The Bruins are now 8-0-1 on the season. But it sounds like they may have to play a few without their top defenseman, just as he was heating up for them.

  • Click here for complete Boston Bruins coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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