(Photo Credits: Paul Rutherford | USA TODAY Sports)

By: Benjamin Aliber | Follow me on Twitter @bpaliber24

With 13 games played, the Boston Bruins have been nothing short of amazing. They are 11-2-0 and lead the league in almost every category. The defense has been okay, with one player standing out the most – Hampus Lindholm. The 6’4 defenseman has been the best blue liner by far for Boston this season, registering a stat line of 13 GP, four Goals, nine Assists, a plus 12, and just over 24 minutes per game.

This could all change, though, as the team may get a massive boost as soon as tonight because Charlie McAvoy, Boston’s number one blue-liner, might make his 2022-2023 season debut at home against the Calgary Flames.

McAvoy underwent shoulder surgery this offseason on June 3 and had a timeline that expected him to be out until early to mid-December. Something must be in the water in Boston, though, because Brad Marchand, who had hip surgery, also recently returned weeks earlier than predicted.

If McAvoy does not suit up for tonight’s game, it is not the worst thing in the world, as there is no need to rush his recovery and cause a risk of re-injury. Over a week ago, McAvoy was spotted in a full-contact jersey instead of the dreaded red no-contact sweater. So say he does return and makes his first official appearance; here is what Bruins fans can expect.

For one, fans can expect a bolstered blue line. Since he entered the league, McAvoy has been one of the best defenseman year in and year out, but that is no surprise when you start your career playing alongside the legend Zdeno Chara.

We can also expect a better, more clean penalty kill. Boston has a decent penalty kill this year but has had significant troubles when it comes to clearing the puck out of the zone. You can expect to see better zone management and smoother puck movement.

The return is also significant due to depth. Boston lost Derek Forbort to an injury sidelining him for at least three weeks. They will not have to look to Providence anymore to call a player up and then send someone down once every three days.

McAvoy controls the ice with every single shift. His ability to read the zone, make crisp passes, and understanding when it comes to where to be is why he was a finalist for the Norris trophy last season.

Jim Montgomery has introduced a new team to the league, one we haven’t not seen since the Claude Julien era. The defense is stepping up and allowed to get involved in the play rather than take a step back and play it safe. This system will have a tremendous impact on the star two-way defensemen and I cannot wait to see how McAvoy will get involved.

The Boston Bruins get a true, young, and their next natural-born leader back into the locker room if all goes according to plan and McAvoy plays against the Calgary Flames tonight at the TD Garden.