Charlie McAvoy is equally proficient at protecting the Bruins zone and defending his reputation as an honest NHL player.
McAvoy made time Wednesday afternoon to address the one-game suspension that will force him to miss Game 1 of the conference final against the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night (8) at the TD Garden.
“I can’t change the kind of player I am and I don’t think I’m a dirty player by any means,” McAvoy said following the team’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “I think this was merely a tough circumstance, I was trying to deliver a legal check.
“I felt for the most part I did get a really good amount of body, a healthy amount of body and I thought it was a full body check but I’m just going to have to serve it.”
McAvoy was suspended for delivering a blow to the head of Columbus forward Josh Anderson with 20 seconds to play in the second period of the Bruins 3-0 elimination victory on Monday night.
He was assessed a two-minute penalty for an illegal blow to the head. Both players competed against each other in the third period and shook hands at the end of the game.
McAvoy reiterated his claim that he was only trying to “make a hockey play” on Anderson and that there was no intent to injure. McAvoy insisted he stayed on message during his hearing.
“It was tough and I was just trying to make a hockey play and It was just a little bit unfortunate. I mean, I was just trying to play the game and it happened and I have to serve it. I respect the process and I was glad that I was able to say my piece and to be able to defend myself. But all things together, I’m not a very good lawyer.
“At this point I’ll miss Game 1, but that being said we need this team to go out and play our game.”
The suspension, combined with a mark on his NHL transcript, will not change McAvoy’s physicality while defending the blue line. McAvoy has consistently employed an aggressive style since joining the Bruins out of Boston University at the end of the 2016-2017 season.
McAvoy brings a steady duality to the Bruins’ first defensive unit alongside Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. McAvoy has averaged a team high 24:46 minutes over 13 playoffs games with a goa and five assists.
Coach Bruce Cassidy was exploring a number of combinations in practice. He wants to keep the second unit of Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug together, so he will likely pair either Steven Kampfer or Connor Clifton with Chara.
Both are right handed shots. Defenseman John Moore, who has missed nine postseason games with an upper body injury, is ready to return and gives Cassidy another card to play.
“We’ve got to make that decision,” said Cassidy. “Certainly, if Kampfer goes in its three righties and three lefties and we like Krug and Carlo depending on how they set their lines.
“Z and Carlo could be a good matchup on certain lines and Z and (Matt) Grzelcyk have played together. I think you are going to see some different combinations depending on the circumstance.”