(Photo credit: NHL.com/Getty Images)

By: Joe Travia | Follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @NHLJoeTravia

Originally tweeted by JFresh (@JFreshHockey) on March 29, 2022.

While the Bruins did not have much to celebrate on Sunday, dropping a 4-2 decision to last year’s playoff foe, the Washington Capitals, one bright spot was the play of 24-year-old defensive anchor Charlie McAvoy. With his punishing physical play and slick puck-moving, McAvoy has taken a significant leap into the upper echelon of NHL defenders, and his skills were on full display again Sunday afternoon. Let’s look at some of the plays that stood out to me.

Takeaways leading to transition

McAvoy is elite at using his body and stick to break up plays. Here, he disrupts a three-on-two rush against with a sweeping poke check. He stays on the puck and logs a takeaway from some guy on the Capitals named Ovechkin (is he good? I haven’t heard of him) and gets the breakout started.
Another strong gap and takeaway at the red line. McAvoy uses his strength to keep possession after causing the turnover and hits Charlie Coyle with a passing, jumpstarting the rush. Does he get away with a bit of a trip? Maybe.
McAvoy has built up a reputation as a heavy open ice hitter, and this is a good example of why. He does an excellent job reading the play and lines Lars Eller up from across the ice, causing another turnover. Bonus points for quickly getting a handle on the puck and chipping it up towards Taylor Hall.
For defenseman in the pro game, scoring points is not always centered around the end-to-end rushes, or big slap shot goals like it is at the lower levels. You have to be able to turn defense into offense and let your forwards work quickly. McAvoy does a tremendous job being aggressive and stopping the Capitals rush at the red line, quickly finding Erik Haula blasts one home.

Offensive skills

This is a confident move from a confident player. RIP Alexander Ovechkin’s ankles
No, this is not the same video. While his defensive chops get most of the fanfare, it is important to recognize how far McAvoy’s offensive game has come during his short time in the NHL. His confidence with the puck has grown exponentially, and he is more than capable of dangling opposing players when given a chance.

One man breakout

Strength on the puck. Puck possession. Skating. Passing ability. Willingness to attack off the rush. These are the skills all elite puck-moving defensemen in the NHL need, and Charlie McAvoy has them in spades. He shows the ability to maneuver his way around attackers and start the rush time after time. One area where his game has really grown in this aspect is his anticipation. In the last clip, he takes a quick peek over his right shoulder before the retrieval. He wheels around the net and already knows where he wants to go with the puck. This type of breakout ability is why his advanced metrics are so impressive. Whenever he is on the ice, good things are happening.


All in all, a solid game for Charlie McAvoy despite the bad result for the team. You need to look very hard for some players for notable clips, but when McAvoy is on the ice, he is easy to spot. He is always engaged physically, generates clean breakouts, and has started to show some offensive flair. He is worth every penny of the nine-year, 76 million dollar extension he signed before this season.