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‘Fun’ Return To Boston Bruins Lineup For McAvoy

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When it was announced shortly after last season’s Boston Bruins playoff run ended that Charlie McAvoy, Brad Marchand and Matt Grzelcyk were going to undergo offseason surgeries and miss regular season time, there was plenty of pessimism around the Black and Gold. Fans thought the Bruins would struggle out of the opening gate with a new coaching staff while missing some of their best players and even management was bracing for a hole that the Bruins might have to dig out of once they got their full NHL roster healthy.

Instead, McAvoy’s return in Thursday night’s 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames at TD Garden was a reason for celebration as the defenseman scored the game-winner while the Boston Bruins improved to a remarkable 12-2-0 on the season, and chipped in two shots on net, five registered hits and two blocked shots. The opposite has happened with the Bruins soaring to unimagined heights while other players have stepped up and now the B’s get even better with McAvoy joining Hampus Lindholm on a defense corps that has two true No. 1 defensemen these days. Oh by the way, the Bruins are a perfect 8-0-0 at TD Garden to start this season, a historic run on home ice to start the year.

“TLC, baby – tender loving care,” said McAvoy when asked what allowed him and Brad Marchand to return so far ahead of schedule in the last few weeks. “Confidence, mostly, in where you’re at and the hard work that you’ve done. We have a great group of trainers in there. They do an exceptional job, and they take so much pride in what they do.

“It felt really good…it’s exciting to come back, and it’s always good to feel those things. This is the first time I’ve come in like this, not having preseason to get ready, so definitely nervous all day today. Excited – the good kind of nerves. To get out there, I knew I just wanted to play simpler. A couple real quick shifts to get me in, and I felt like it went well.”

That also leaves the Boston Bruins coaching staff with high hopes when injured players Jeremy Swayman and Derek Forbort come back after watching McAvoy score – and Marchand pot two goals in his return – after sitting out training camp and the first 13 games of the regular season.

Clearly the return of the Mack has his teammates excited as well given how many tough minutes he plays, how he’s out there in all situations and the way he can transition defense to offense in today’s NHL where that skill is paramount. McAvoy showed that throughout the game in addition to his ability to snipe the puck in the second period just after a Boston Bruins power play had expired leaving him with a clean attempt from the point.

“He’s fun to watch. It’s a lot more fun coaching with him than against him,” said Montgomery, who managed to keep him to just 19:18 of ice time while aiming to keep his workload under 20 minutes of ice time in his first game back. “Just his skating, his ability to create, how many pucks he kept alive in the offensive zone by pinching pucks on walls and then carrying them down and making possession plays.”

Now it can only go onward and upward for McAvoy and for the Boston Bruins after a successful return to the lineup on Thursday night, and an entire season full of boundless potential there for the Black and Gold.

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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