Charlie McAvoy has never been known as a big hitter. Instead, the Bruins first selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft has settled in as a core piece, a perfect modern defenseman. On Monday night, however, it was McAvoy’s physicality, not his skills, that turned the tide for the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins scored four goals in less than seven minutes to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 lead. McAvoy was at the center of it when he lit up Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal.
“You have to be able to create your own energy on the bench. Going into that third period and obviously you’re down two and the game hadn’t really been in our favor,” McAvoy began when asked about the hit. “We had some chances and stuff but we were looking to create some energy and that was kind of the message – that we weren’t out of it. It was opportunity to step up and make a hit, try and separate a man from the puck.
“We were already playing well. And just to see so many guys step up and make tremendous plays tonight when it really mattered to get us a win was just so awesome to see. It really lifts the spirit of the team.”
Staal left the game after the hit, arguably the biggest of McAvoy’s young career. The Bruins rode that momentum to a 4-3 victory in Game 4. They now lead the First Round series 3-1.
“I started skating backwards, tried to kind of take a proper angle there,” Charlie McAvoy continued. “You want to make sure all your stuff is in so you don’t deliver a dirty hit. You never hope to injure someone. Just to take the puck from a man and I hope he’s doing okay.
“All I’m thinking is to try and separate a man from the puck and try to get us possession back as quick as possible so we can play offense and try and tie the game up. That was really my only thought process. The game moves so fast and I just wanted to deliver a clean check and just do my job.