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Bruins Notebook

With Hampus Lindholm aboard, Charlie McAvoy has more room to roam

Since highly-skilled defenseman Hampus Lindholm joined the Bruins at the trade deadline, Charlie McAvoy (far left) has been able to join the rush more often.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Charlie McAvoy was having the best offensive season of his career before Hampus Lindholm arrived at the trade deadline. His eight goals were already a career high. So were the 32 assists he had at the time.

But playing next to Lindholm, another highly-skilled defenseman who can chase down pucks and initiate offense, has allowed McAvoy to stretch his game,

“What you’re seeing is Lindholm breaks out the puck very well, so it frees Charlie up to activate,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “He’s always been good at that. But he’s usually the one making the first pass and then maybe getting eliminated by the forecheck. So now it’s his partner doing some of that so he’s got a bit of a free pass to support the rush.”

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Charlie McAvoy looks for some open ice during Saturday's game against Columbus.Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

McAvoy’s recorded seven assists in five games since being paired with Lindholm. He’s had at least one assist in four of the five games.

With Lindholm taking some of the work off McAvoy’s plate, McAvoy can afford to be more involved on the offensive end.

“He’s always been encouraged to join in when it’s appropriate and I think right now, because what I just talked about, it’s just easier developing for him,” Cassidy said. “Both guys are really good at shaking the first guy and now all of a sudden you got something. And if the forwards support well, then off you go.”

Cassidy split Lindholm and McAvoy against the Maple Leafs. He said circumstances will dictate whether he does it again, but eventually, he’ll play Lindholm with Brandon Carlo.

“It’ll probably be one of those days where it’s, ‘OK, the pieces fit today, that’s how we’re going to do it,’ ” Cassidy said. “But I’ve liked him with Charlie. We’re going to try to [split them up], but if it doesn’t happen, that means a good thing has happened along the way where everyone’s doing their part.”

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Finding room

Cassidy said he’d like to find minutes over the next few days for players who’ve been off the ice.

“We’d like to use everybody, especially with a back-to-back to keep guys sharp,” Cassidy said.

Josh Brown, who suffered an upper-body injury in his Bruins debut, will play either Monday in Columbus or Tuesday in Detroit. Craig Smith returned to the lineup Saturday against Columbus after being under the weather only to be shaken by a hit. His availability will affect how much Marc McLaughlin plays.

Could Marc McLaughlin see a spike in playing time?Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

After scoring a goal in his NHL debut, McLaughlin sat Saturday. Cassidy said it’s helpful having McLaughlin sit between games.

“That’s his role here going forward,” Cassidy said. “He may push someone out of a job. I can’t predict the future. He’s played one game. But that would probably be how he gets in — with an injury to someone or whatever else could happen.”

“We like our four lines, how they are, how we’re performing as a team. Again, if he makes us better, that would be a good problem to have, but that’s probably not a bad way for him to go — play a game, watch a little bit, play a game to see if he can [keep his motor up].

Cassidy said he would also like to get Anton Blidh and Jack Studnicka back in the fold.

Linus Ullmark will be in net against Columbus. Jeremy Swayman will start Tuesday.

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Hitting the road

The Bruins have three back-to-backs remaining this season. They’re 6-1-1 in the first of consecutive games and 4-4-0 in the second ... The Bruins will play eight of their final 14 regular-season games on the road, including this four-game stretch through Columbus, Detroit, Tampa Bay, and Washington. The Bruins have won six of their last seven road games.


Julian Benbow can be reached at julian.benbow@globe.com.