( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Danielle DuBois | Follow me on Twitter @DanielleDuBois

The Boston Bruins defense is remarkable this season. With almost the same roster as last season’s defense, what caused this sudden turnaround? Each week we will be breaking down a player on the Bruins’ defense and discussing why it works. This week we will be looking into Charlie McAvoy. 

McAvoy started his professional hockey career in 2013 after committing to Boston University. During his time at BU, McAvoy was paired with future Boston Bruin Matt Grzelcyk. In the 2016 draft, McAvoy was chosen in the first round by the Boston Bruins. McAvoy joined the Providence Bruins in March 2017 and, just a month later, played his first-ever NHL game.

In McAvoy’s first full season with the Bruins, he recorded 32 points in 63 games. McAvoy was set to become a free agent at the end of the 2021-2022 season; however, the Bruins couldn’t get rid of the talent he has. The Bruins ended up extending McAvoy for eight years for $76 million, which is the largest contract in Bruins history. 

McAvoy sustained a shoulder injury during the playoffs last season after being checked against the boards by a Carolina Hurricanes player. After the Bruins lost the series to Carolina, McAvoy underwent surgery that usually takes six months to recover from. The Bruins went into the season relying on defensemen Hampus Lindholm, Connor Clifton, and Derek Forbort to keep the Bruins’ defense alive. While McAvoy was projected to debut in early December, he progressed faster than everyone thought and ended up making his season debut on November 10 against the Calgary Flames. 

McAvoy has played 18 games this season and racked up 17 points. Last season the defenseman had 56 points in 78 games, making him the fifth-highest point scorer for the Bruins. Despite having a great offensive season, McAvoy couldn’t stay out of the penalty box. With 66 penalty minutes, he had the second-most penalties on the team. A common penalty that gets McAvoy in a lot of trouble is the hooking calls. 

Many times last season, we would see the Bruins have to chase after the other team, and that’s usually when the playmaking gets a little sloppy. When the Bruins are forced to catch up to the other team, that’s when we see McAvoy using his stick to trip up the offender. It’s a common penalty that gets called on defensemen because of that reasoning. 

The Bruins’ defense is much better this year because they have stopped playing from behind and have the speed to stay on top of the play. McAvoy has been able to stay in front of the opponent and play defense pressed forward instead of playing from behind. McAvoy stands out as a defenseman because of his puck-possession abilities and offensive talent. 

Lately, Bruins head coach, Jim Montgomery, has been pairing Lindholm and McAvoy together and we have seen it greatly benefit the Bruins. Lindholm excels at carrying the puck into the offensive zone, whereas McAvoy excels at fighting for the puck and getting the puck out of their zone. The two have worked well together, and Montgomery has helped them embrace their true talents.