Boston Bruins

  • Wednesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena came with Charlie McAvoy back atop the right side of the Black and Gold’s defensive depth chart, and to the right of Hampus Lindholm.

    That, with the Bruins continuing to ‘check more boxes’ on McAvoy, is enough to get you excited about the prospect of McAvoy finally making his season debut for the Bruins after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.

    And the Bruins know it.

    “Doing well,” a grinning McAvoy said following practice. “We’re just continuing to stack these boxes up. Feel good about where we are, and just going one day at a time.

    “We feel really good about where we’re at.”

  • The biggest obstacle for McAvoy and the Bruins in this recovery has been upping the physicality McAvoy takes in practice. The Bruins’ early-season schedule made it tough to get that ramp-up going, but with two days of practice uninterrupted by any games, the progress has been there.

    “You try your best, and that’s something we’re working on right now,” McAvoy admitted. “Getting into battles, lifting sticks hard, having guys try to rub you out, and taking that contact and trying to feel good. That’s something that’s big, especially as a defenseman.”

    Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery would not confirm nor deny that McAvoy would jump into action for Thursday’s game against the Flames. That could be nothing, of course.

    But it’s almost the same thing he did with Brad Marchand prior to his return to the lineup, and you could see the excitement in Montgomery’s eyes when he began the next day with the news that Marchand would be in the lineup. In other words, the man loves to surprise the people.

    The most you got out of Montgomery on Wednesday was that McAvoy will be playing within the week.

    That checks out with the Bruins’ internal timeline, as the Bruins felt that McAvoy would beat both the Dec. 1 and Nov. 24 timelines they’ve put on McAvoy at various points following his surgery.

  • May 2, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) watches game action against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period in game one of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

    May 2, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) watches game action against the Hurricanes in Game 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. (James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

  • And based on Wednesday, McAvoy’s return will come with a reunion with Lindholm on Boston’s top pairing.

    Together for 131 minutes and change of five-on-five ice time last year, the Lindholm-McAvoy pairing dominated with a 59.93 corsi-for percentage, 107-58 on-ice shot advantage, and 12-3 edge in goals.

    It was an obviously limited sample size, but among the 299 different NHL pairings with at least 130 minutes of five-on-five time on ice since the start of last year, the Lindholm-McAvoy pairing ranks eighth in corsi-for percentage, third in shots-for percentage, and ninth in high-danger chances for-percentage.

    Lindholm, meanwhile, has been a force even without McAvoy patrolling the blue line to his right, with four goals and 13 points, along with a plus-12 rating, through 13 games played.

    “Man, he’s been playing awesome hockey, as well as all the defensemen who have been coming in,” McAvoy said of Lindholm. “To watch these guys every night has been amazing, and Lindy has certainly looked incredible. He’s been playing amazing, and it’s been really fun to watch.”

  • Mar 26, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) (right) talks with his new defensive partner defenseman Hampus Lindholm (27) before a face-off against the New York Islanders during the second period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 26, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) (right) talks with his new defensive partner defenseman Hampus Lindholm (27) before a face-off against the New York Islanders during the second period at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

  • And the Bruins have, by the way, made room for McAvoy should he be ready to go for Thursday’s head-to-head with the Flames, with Mike Reilly placed on waivers for the purpose of assignment to Providence.

    The Bruins are also without Derek Forbort, and it would appear likely that Forbort would move to the long-term injured reserve for the Bruins to make the cap room necessary to activate McAvoy.

    McAvoy, who suffered this shoulder injury in Game 6 of the team’s first-round series with the Hurricanes last May, is coming off a 2021-22 campaign that included a career-high in goals (10), assists (46), points (56), plus-minus (plus-31), and time on ice (24:40).