McAvoy coming of age for the Bruins in these playoffs


It's getting harder and harder to make a case for someone other than Charlie McAvoy as the Boston Bruins' MVP through eight games of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The B's top defenseman gave another stellar performance in his team's 2-1 overtime win against the New York Islanders in Thursday night's Game 3 at Nassau Coliseum. The B's lead the second-round playoff series 2-1 as a result.

McAvoy logged a team-high 29:10 of ice time, which was nearly seven minutes more than the next-highest player for Boston. He didn't get any rest on special teams, either. McAvoy played 3:24 on the power play and 2:58 on the penalty kill -- no player on either team logged more special teams ice time. 

Tuukka Rask carried Bruins to pivotal Game 3 win

The 23-year-old defenseman also played a ton after Brandon Carlo left the game 6:06 into the third period with an apparent head injury. The B's were down to five defensemen after Carlo's exit and McAvoy was forced to shoulder a lot of the burden.

McAvoy's final shift in overtime helped pave the way for Boston's winning goal.

After the B's regained puck possession in their own end, McAvoy carried it all the way into the attacking zone, executing a successful zone entry before feeding Marchand. The Bruins left winger scored from a tight angle as McAvoy was coming off the ice for a much-needed break.

The Bruins controlled the majority of play whenever McAvoy was on the ice. They held a 39-25 edge in shot attempts, a 20-14 lead in shots on net, a 24-14 advantage in scoring chances, a 6-3 margin in high-danger chances and a 1-0 goal differential during his nearly 30 minutes of action. Boston also accounted for more than 50 percent of all shot attempts, shots on net, scoring chances and goals with McAvoy on the ice at 5-on-5.

McAvoy also impacted the game physically, dishing out six hits (including a massive one on Jean-Gabriel Pageau) and blocking five shots. 

The Bruins will need a lot more of these excellent performances from McAvoy if they're going to win this series and make a deep playoff run.

The team's blue line depth is being tested quite a bit right now with Carlo, Kevan Miller and Jakub Zboril all dealing with some kind of issue. Miller hasn't played since Game 4 of the first round and already has been ruled out of Game 4 against the Islanders after not traveling to New York. Zboril is day-to-day with an upper body injury. Carlo's status for Saturday night is unknown right now. 

Playing close to 30 minutes could easily become the norm here for McAvoy, even in games that don't require overtime. That's how important he is to the Bruins' success in all three zones. He is the one player the Bruins absolutely cannot afford to lose based on his Norris Trophy-caliber two-way talent and the state of the team's blue line.

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