Entering his fifth game of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs – and with his team on the verge of advancing to the second round if they can beat the Washington Capitals in Game 5 tonight – is Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy an early candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy?
McAvoy likely won’t be nominated as a finalist for the Norris Trophy this summer but he still may finish in the top 5-7. Outside of the likely finalists, Victor Hedman, Cale Makar and Adam Fox, there was an array of NHL defensemen who had monster seasons and McAvoy was one of them. Thus far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs though, Hedman and McAvoy have stood far above the rest as the best defensemen in the postseason.
Hedman has seven assists for seven points and after a Norris-worthy performance in which he finished with three helpers in 26:18 TOI in the 4-1 Boston Bruins win in Game 4, McAvoy is right behind Hedman with five assists for five points.
“The biggest thing about him is when the spotlight’s on him and the lights get brighter, Chucky shows up to play and he elevates his game,” McAvoy’s longtime teammate (with the Boston Bruins and Boston University), and friend Matt Grzelcyk said following Game 4. It’s fun to watch him grow up right in front of our eyes. He’s one of the best defensemen in the league.”
McAvoy finished the regular season with five goals and 25 assists in 51 games. He spent most of the season paired up with rookie Jeremy Lauzon but thanks to an injury for Lauzon, was reunited with his former defensive partner at BU, Grzelcyk, and the former Terriers have shined together. Based on this stat dug up by John Buccigroos of ESPN, maybe this pairing needs to stay together for good?
Regardless of who the 24-year-old McAvoy is playing with though, you can expect this Conn Smythe-worthy act from McAvoy to continue as has now entered the elite and upper echelon of NHL defenseman.
Now onto the rest of your BHN Daily links:
The Boston Bruins will look to Jarred Tinordi to replace some of the toughness they’re lacking with Kevan Miller out of the lineup. (BHN)
The Boston Bruins are heading into Game 5 with their collective pedal to the medal and focused on driving through the Washington Capitals and into the second round. (BHN)
Is Curtis Lazar’s baby son Owen a new good luck charm for the Boston Bruins? (BHN)
Larry Brooks says former New York Rangers and Boston University head coach David Quinn deserves another chance behind an NHL bench. (NY Post)
After reading this column by Mike Harrington, to me one of the best straight shooters in the media, if you don’t think it’s time for the Pegula’s to sell the Sabres and just focus on the Bills, you’re seriously in denial or good friends or family with them. (Buffalo News)
Some national love for Boston Bruins center David Krejci from veteran scribe Steve Simmons (Toronto Sun)
Bruce Cassidy hasn’t been the only NHL head coach left scratching his head over the NHL officiating. That and more on the latest Hockey Headlines. (KuklasKorner)
Here’s your National Hockey Now Links of the day:
The Flower continues to blossom. Marc-Andre Fleury got his 16th career playoff shutout to put the Vegas Golden Knights up 3-1 in their series with the Minnesota Wild. (Vegas Hockey Now)
Give Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin credit for facing the music after a terrible Game 4 in a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
Here’s the Islanders perspective of their dominant Game 4 win. (NYI Hockey Now)
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman/forward Sam Morin wants to be the Broadest Bully for his team next season. (Philly Hockey Now)
Adrian Dater on a late Mother’s Day present for former Boston College star Alex Newhook’s Mom after her son scored his first NHL goal in a 5-1 win for the Avalanche in Game 3. (Colorado Hockey Now)
Has the Florida Panthers-Tampa Bay Lightning been the dirtiest series in the playoffs thus far? (Florida Hockey Now)