By Andrew Taverna | Follow me on Twitter: @andrewtaverna
According to the team Twitter account and Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, Charlie McAvoy will not play in Thursday night’s matchup against the Minnesota Wild at the TD Garden due to a “lingering lower-body injury.”
The Bruins and Cassidy stated that this is likely not a long-term injury and have Charlie McAvoy listed as day-to-day. He could be back as early as Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The day-to-day status is a good thing for the Bruins as after tonight’s game, the Bruins head out on a two-game road trip to Tampa Bay and Washington, not returning until January 12th when they take on the Montreal Canadiens in a rescheduled game at the TD Garden. Cassidy has said that John Moore will slot in with Charlie McAvoy going out, so let’s look at both of their games.
This season, the top-tier workhorse defenseman Charlie McAvoy has looked like his usual self averaging just over 24 minutes of ice time in 28 games. At a plus-seven, McAvoy is holding his own in the defensive end while, at times, playing with the likes of Derek Forbort. With the responsibility of often defending the other team’s top-tier talent and carrying his defensive partner, McAvoy’s game has been particularly impressive on the offensive side as well. In 28 games this season, McAvoy has five goals and 15 assists, totaling 20 points. Is that a Norris caliber level of offensive production? Probably not. That said, considering the games he’s played have mostly been with a struggling Forbort or offensively-minded Matt Grzelcyk, that’s decent offensive production from him. Speaking of Matt Grzelcyk, since pairing with McAvoy, he has been fun to watch and playing at a level I think Bruins fans have come to expect. This adjustment is one of Cassidy’s many changes lately that I think is paying off for the Bruins. That said, while McAvoy is out, John Moore will be sliding into the lineup.
Listen, if you’ve spent any time reading my articles or my tweets, you know I haven’t always been a fan favorite of John Moore. The signing has driven me crazy for a long time because of the term and money Don Sweeny offered. That said, Moore has proven to be a solid seventh defenseman this year and, at times, has looked even better than serviceable. I’d take that statement as far as to say, if it were not for cap flexibility, there would be games this year you would see Moore in the lineup over some of the other folks. Listen, John Moore isn’t going to replace McAvoy in the offensive production category or the shutdown minutes category. Still, if you need a guy for a single game to play some hard-nosed hokey and wear on the other team’s forwards, Moore can play that function for a game. The weight will be on Grzelcyk to keep that pair playing NHL-caliber hockey, and frankly, I think the duo can do it for tonight.
Assuming that Charlie McAvoy can slot back into the lineup Saturday, all is right in the world. If not, it might be worth Bruce Cassidy shaking things up a bit more and displacing some of the defensive pairings. For now, though, let’s hope this is really a day-to-day situation with McAvoy, and he’s back to picking up where he left off against Tampa Bay on Saturday.