Josh Anderson

McAvoy’s back for Bruins, and now comes the easy part

BOSTON (AP) — When he’s playing, Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy said, it’s easy for him to maintain his composure and concentrate on the game in front of him.

Up in the press box, that’s the hard part.

”I’m not a very good hockey watcher,” McAvoy said as he prepared to return from his one-game suspension for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Carolina Hurricanes. ”The game seems like it’s much longer.”

McAvoy was suspended for a shoulder to the head of Columbus forward Josh Anderson in the second-round finale. So instead of taking the ice in his usual pairing with Zdeno Chara, McAvoy was wandering around the media dining area before Game 1, wondering if he had to pay or not. (He didn’t.)

And while his teammates were beating the Hurricanes 5-2 in the conference final opener, McAvoy was in street clothes on the very top level of the TD Garden, trying to keep his emotions under control.

”Here on this level, I’m like this,” McAvoy said, holding out his hand, palm down, and moving it in a steady and straight line in front of his face.

”But up there,” he said, pumping his fist and bouncing out of his imaginary seat. ”I’m glad I get to play tomorrow.”

A 21-year-old first-round draft choice from Boston University, McAvoy had seven goals and 21 assists from the blue line this year, his second full season in the NHL. He missed six weeks early in the season with a concussion and another two over Christmas because of a foot injury.

But he hadn’t had to sit out healthy, for just one game.

McAvoy said he would try to use the forced break to his advantage.

”Whenever you’re out, you can use it as an opportunity to get other things feeling right,” he said, adding that watching the game from above game him a perspective that would be beneficial. ”I feel like I picked up on some things.”

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said McAvoy was missed for his physical play and his ability to start the transition to offense.

”Those up-the-middle passes that maybe the other guys just don’t have the vision or confidence, or both, to make,” he said. ”Those quick-strike plays where forwards are getting the pucks in their hands in good spots with a better chance to attack.”

Steven Kampfer, who replaced McAvoy in the lineup, had Boston’s first goal, and the Bruins scored four times in the third period on Thursday night to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 2 is Sunday at the TD Garden, with the series moving to Carolina for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday.

The Hurricanes fell behind 2-0 in their first-round series against the Washington Capitals before eliminating the defending Stanley Cup champions in seven games. In the second round, they swept the New York Islanders.

”We don’t want to get down 2-0,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. ”If we get to that point, that’s what everyone will be saying. We have some things to draw on, no matter what, no matter which way this thing goes.”

INJURY UPDATE

Cassidy said forward Noel Acciari won’t play in Game 2 but may be on track to return for Tuesday’s Game 3 in Carolina. Acciari (undisclosed injury) returned to non-contact practice on Saturday and was expected to be cleared for full practice on Monday, Cassidy said.

Saku Maenalanen is skating, but he still can’t shoot because of his hand injury, Brind’Amour said. Forward Jordan Martinook ”is going to play,” Brind’Amour said. ”He’s banged up, a little gimpy out there. But we want him in the lineup.”

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Bruins’ McAvoy suspended for Game 1 against Hurricanes

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Charlie McAvoy‘s hit on Josh Anderson didn’t draw a major penalty in the Boston Bruins’ Game 6 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but it will force McAvoy to sit out Game 1 of the 2019 Eastern Conference Final versus the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.

Here’s the video explanation from the NHL, which labels the check as an illegal check to the head, one that McAvoy could have avoided. Anderson was able to return during the third period of Game 6, and also seemed to share a cordial handshake with McAvoy following Boston’s 3-0 win.

The video gets into the nitty gritty of the hit, noting that McAvoy attempted a hit that would be difficult to execute without making contact with Anderson’s head. The Department of Player Safety also claims that McAvoy elevated to make the hit.

The league also noted that McAvoy hadn’t been fined or suspended during his NHL career before this incident, so that factored into the check drawing a one game suspension, rather than something more severe.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bruins’ McAvoy to have hearing for Game 6 hit on Anderson

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(UPDATE: McAvoy has been suspended one game.)

When the Boston Bruins host the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, defenseman Charlie McAvoy likely will not be available.

The Bruins blue liner will have a Tuesday hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety following his second period hit on Columbus Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson in Game 6.

McAvoy was assessed only a minor penalty on the play due to the fact that the official deemed it an illegal check to the head under Rule 48.1, which only carries either a minor or match penalty with it, not a major or game misconduct.

The Blue Jackets failed to score on the ensuing power play and were eliminated following the 3-0 defeat.

“I thought it was a hockey play,” McAvoy said afterward. “I mean, I put my shoulder into it. When I hit, I do my very best to keep my elbow tucked so I don’t get it out there. I hit with my shoulder. I try to hit with as much power as possible. He’s a bigger guy, it was a hockey play.”

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

John Tortorella did not divulge what the officials told him regarding the call. The Blue Jackets players were obviously frustrated considering it was 1-0 at the time of the hit and had Kelly Sutherland and Steve Kozari been able to call a five-minute major, that extra power play time could have swung the game.

“It sucks,” said Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno. “Kelly is a good ref. I don’t want to get into it. He had a tough call to make. I just think when your player is injured, it’s an automatic five minutes. … At the end of the day, he probably makes the right call, but at the time you probably want to see it be a five. Then again, we got a two-minute power play and we didn’t make anything of it. We got another power play after that and we didn’t make anything of it.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Bruins’ McAvoy only gets minor penalty for hit to Anderson’s head

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UPDATE: McAvoy will have a hearing for the hit with the NHL Department of Player Safety.

Blue Jackets fans rained boos (and some peanuts?) onto the ice late in the second period of Game 6 on Monday, and it wasn’t because the Boston Bruins carried a 1-0 lead into the intermission.

Instead, fans weren’t pleased about a hit by Charlie McAvoy, and what they perceived to be a light punishment for an ugly-looking hit. McAvoy received a two-minute minor for illegal hit to the head; others believed that a roughing major and game misconduct would be more appropriate.

You can see video of the hit in the video above this post’s headline. Pretty tough to argue that Anderson’s head was the principal point of contact.

There’s no avoiding a comparison to the infamous situation for the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6. In that case, Cody Eakin received a major penalty and misconduct for cross-checking Joe Pavelski. It was an ugly-looking injury for Pavelski, but that major opened the door for San Jose to storm back with four power-play goals, which ended up being pivotal in swinging that series. The officials who made that call were not deployed for Round 2 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs; is it possible that Monday’s Game 6 officials had that in mind … that they didn’t want to make that big call and get it wrong?

Blue Jackets fans weren’t happy, and you could see John Tortorella repeatedly pointing to his head, and saying … who knows what else.

Columbus carried over 1:40 of power play time, but couldn’t score. In fact, they couldn’t score against Rask at all, as the Bruins won Game 6 by a score of 3-0 to close out the series 4-2. During the handshake line, things seemed very cordial between Anderson and McAvoy, for whatever that’s worth.

What do you think about the call on the ice? Do you think McAvoy should receive a suspension? If so, for how long?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Playoff Buzzer: Hero Heiskanen; Game 1 upsets (VIDEO)

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  • After falling behind 3-0, the Blue Jackets stunned the historically dominant Lightning in Game 1.
  • The Penguins forced Game 1 into overtime, but Josh Bailey and the Islanders wouldn’t be denied in front of raucous crowd at Nassau Coliseum.
  • Patrik Laine might have improved his confidence with a nice goal, but the Blues stayed hot in take a 1-0 series lead against the Jets.
  • After Vegas dominated last year’s Game 1, the Sharks returned the favor this time around in a nasty game that had nasty implications for Joe Pavelski‘s face.
  • Miro Heiskanen scores as the Stars beat the Predators in Nashville.

Blue Jackets 4, Lightning 3 (Columbus leads series 1-0)

Tampa Bay seemed like they were in business as usual mode during a 3-0 first period, possibly making Sergei Bobrovsky degrade into dreaded “Playoff Bob.” Bobrovsky didn’t allow another goal, however, as Columbus absolutely stunned the Lightning with four unanswered goals. Shocking, indeed.

Islanders 4, Penguins 3 [OT] (New York leads series 1-0)

Some would call it an upset. Some Islanders fans might be upset about that since their team had home-ice advantage. No Islanders fans should be upset about this spirited win. Pittsburgh possessed the puck, especially as the game went along, but the precious win goes to the plucky Islanders.

Blues 2, Jets 1 (St. Louis leads series 1-0)

St. Louis finished the season on the rise, while Winnipeg was struggling mightily, yet the Jets soared off to an early lead. Jordan Binnington and the Blues ultimately won after scoring two third-period goals and keeping Winnipeg’s high-powered offense in check.

Stars 3, Predators 2 (Dallas leads series 1-0)

Coming into this game, it was worthy to note that both OK-to-paltry offenses included three defensemen in their top six scorers. They followed that script, as five of the six goals were scored by blueliners, with Miro Heiskanen leading the way with two of those tallies. Mats Zuccarello may not have played much for Dallas during the regular season, but he scored the game-winner. Also following the script was a Nashville power play that couldn’t get the job done. (UPDATE: The NHL has taken away Heiskanen’s second goal and awarded it to Alex Radulov.)

Sharks 5, Golden Knights 3 (San Jose leads series 1-0)

Speaking of scripts, San Jose flipped it, going from big Game 1 losers against Vegas last year to lopsided winners this year. The score got closer down the stretch, but the Sharks got the better of the Golden Knights during a testy, hard-hitting affair. This series could end up having everything – great scoring, dynamic defensemen, and brawning battles – as long as Vegas can keep it competitive.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars

1. Miro Heiskanen

Um, how is this guy just 19 years old? OK, he looks that way literally speaking, but he plays like a veteran.

After an impressive 12-goal, 33-point season as a rookie, Heiskanen scored two goals to help Dallas win Game 1 in Nashville. The Predators’ defense is one of the most-hyped in the NHL, and with good reason (including Wednesday, as P.K. Subban and Roman Josi provided the goals), but Heiskanen ranks as a big reason why the Stars aren’t as far behind on defense as many might realize.

2. Jordan Eberle

Plenty of Islanders were “under water” possession-wise against the Penguins in their Game 1 win, so Eberle’s game was already solid in that he was one of the few who won the shot share battle against Pittsburgh.

But if that’s too boring for you, Eberle scored the Islanders’ first goal of the game, and he also managed an assist while firing five shots on goal overall. That’s a far cry from the zero goals he managed during the Oilers’ playoff run that likely prompted his trade to the Islanders.

3. Brent Burns

There were some other strong performances on Wednesday, including Josh Anderson (an assist, plus a shorthanded goal) and Jordan Binnington (24 out of 25 saves), but Burns loomed large over Game 1, and not just because he was the person who deflected a puck off of Joe Pavelski’s face for the Sharks’ first goal (counting as an assist for Burns).

Burns scored a goal, and alongside Erik Karlsson, he reminded us prognosticators that the Sharks don’t just have an edge on defense over the Golden Knights in the form of two former Norris winners, they also have an edge over everyone else.

And you could consider this something of a collective Sharks award, if that helps. Erik Karlsson also had two assists, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Evander Kane got to two points by way of scoring a goal and an assist apiece.

Highlights of the Night

Josh Bailey’s OT winner came after he shot in a rebound following an exceptional effort from exceptional Islanders forward Mathew Barzal:

Might as well throw in Blue Jackets – Lightning, too. The David Savard goal is probably the most mind-blowing, particularly since he deked around Victor Hedman to make it happen.

Factoid of the Night

The Lightning didn’t lose a game where they had a three-goal lead all season, and they never blew a three-goal lead in a playoff game in franchise history until the Blue Jackets’ rally.

Thursday’s schedule
Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins, Game 1, 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN (live stream)
Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals, Game 1, 7:30 p.m. ET, USA (live stream)
Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames, Game 1, 10 p.m. ET, NBCSN (live stream)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.