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Charlie McAvoy recalls his Bruins debut

Boston  MA   10/12/19       Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) is introduced before the season opener against the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden.  (photo by Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff) 
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Boston MA 10/12/19 Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) is introduced before the season opener against the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden. (photo by Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff) topic: reporter:Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

It has been three years since Charlie McAvoy made his NHL debut.

The Bruins were down defensemen Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug as they got set to open a playoff series against the Ottawa Senators.

McAvoy, the team’s first-round pick in 2016, had just completed his sophomore season at Boston University. He was pressed into the lineup and logged the second-most minutes among Bruins in a 2-1 win at Ottawa on April 12, 2017.

“That was incredible," McAvoy said via Zoom Tuesday. "It was a dream come true, because that was my first NHL game, and that was my entire life. That was all I wanted to do was play in the NHL, and that was my chance.

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"And to have it in that playoff atmosphere was incredible. The nerves, the excitement. All of it.”

Tuesday was McAvoy’s turn to field questions submitted by Bruins season ticket-holders and Bob Beers, the former Bruin defenseman who is now the radio analyst on the club’s broadcasts on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Not surprisingly, McAvoy, 22, listed last season’s run to the Stanley Cup Final as his favorite Bruins moment.

“Going on that playoff run, everything about it was just incredible," he said. "The emotional highs that you have when you’re on that run, every single game feels like a battle.

"After every win, you hug each other a little tighter. You appreciate the moment a little more. I don’t think there’s anything better than winning a playoff series.

“There’s just something about it that’s kind of magical. We were able to go on that run and come together. I just hope we have a chance to do it again.”

Asked if he could play with anyone in hockey history, McAvoy chose Hall of Famer Bobby Orr.

“I think he is without a doubt the best defenseman in NHL history, a Bruins legend, and just an unbelievable guy,” McAvoy said. “I think having him on the left, and I’ll play the right. He can just go and rush the puck all day, and I’ll stay back for him. That would just be incredible to have been able to play with him.”

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Of course, the guy he’s playing with now is pretty good too, and McAvoy didn’t hesitate to name Zdeno Chara when asked his favorite player to skate with.

Zdeno Chara hugged Charlie McAvoy after a Bruins overtime win earlier this season.
Zdeno Chara hugged Charlie McAvoy after a Bruins overtime win earlier this season. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

“He’s just such a great guy," McAvoy said. "He’s our leader, and all that he’s been able to do in his hockey career is incredible. Playing with him has been awesome, and it’s something that I’ll be able to tell my kids about one day, that I was able to play with the big guy.”

While he’s happy to be partnering with Chara on the top defensive pairing for the Bruins, McAvoy revealed that as a young skater, playing forward was his first love. However, his father was the coach of his youth hockey team, and with the entire team clamoring to play forward, he made the decision to move his son back to defense.

“I think that’s maybe how my offensive side came into it," McAvoy said. "I still wanted to go out and score, rush the puck, a lot of things I still like to do today. I look back at it now, and I wouldn’t change anything.”

McAvoy has kept busy by looking to stay in shape, with Bruins head performance coach Kevin Neeld sending the team instructions on what they should be doing.

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“Every single day, there’s something you can do to make sure you’re staying in shape,” McAvoy said. "The other part of that is eating well, and just taking care of yourself, so that’s been kind of the focus.

“In the down time, it’s been a lot of relaxing and movies and TV and playing some Xbox, and stuff like that. Just trying to stay busy. There’s only so much to do.”

Speaking of video games, McAvoy begrudgingly acknowledged that forward Jake DeBrusk is the best gamer on the team

“He’s got the skills,” McAvoy said. “He’ll beat me at every game. But he’s good to have on your team if you’re playing video games, and it’s a two-player game that’s for sure.”

Asked about his time at BU, McAvoy said he loved every second of it.

“The hockey team has so much history,” McAvoy said. "The facilities are incredible, the school is challenging. It was good, just all the resources we had.

“My favorite part was just the team. We had incredible guys there, friends who I’ll have for life and that I still check in on. Were able to win a lot of games and have some fun.”

Boston media members were invited to monitor the discussion but did not participate in the Q&A.


Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney.