Charlie McAvoy still is taking things one day at a time while recovering from a concussion. But Monday was a good day for the Boston Bruins defenseman — a really good day.
McAvoy wore a black jersey and was a full-contact participant at practice Monday after weeks of sporting a red non-contact jersey. It’s unclear when exactly the 20-year-old will return to Boston’s lineup, but Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy explained McAvoy is one step closer to game action.
“I guess for him, he’s going to have to get used to a few bodies around him and banging and try to simulate some of that in practice,” Cassidy told reporters at Warrior Ice Arena. “Some of the 5-on-5 drills will have that, so that more he gets comfortable with that, the closer he’ll be. So again, it’s good news. It’s probably the last step, right, that he’s comfortable with contact and bodies around him, and get ready to go.”
McAvoy will travel with the team moving forward, according to Cassidy, meaning the young blueliner theoretically could suit up Tuesday against the Florida Panthers or Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins return home after those two road contests to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night at TD Garden.
For now, the Bruins will continue to take a wait-and-see approach with McAvoy, who hasn’t played since Oct. 18. McAvoy expressed optimism after Monday’s practice, though, and the Bruins sure could use his help on the back end, where they’re also without Zdeno Chara and Kevan Miller due to injuries.
“I think that’s just human nature, being a little bit nervous, excited, a little worried how I would respond,” McAvoy told reporters after practice Monday. “But overall, I think practice today — about 20, 25 minutes following practice — I feel like I put a lot of work in, I’m feeling really well. My head feels well, my body I feel like I just had a great workout. I’m very optimistic because of that.”
The Bruins have been decimated by injuries this season. They’re even without their best all-around player, Patrice Bergeron, who’s recovering from rib and shoulder injuries. So far, Boston has managed to tread water, and McAvoy’s impending return will help the club both offensively and defensively.
McAvoy, who turns 21 this month, totaled seven goals and 25 assists for 32 points in 63 regular-season games last season. He registered one goal and five assists for six points in seven games this season.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images