Update, Nov. 10: Charlie McAvoy will make his season debut for Bruins on Thursday vs. the Flames.
There were signs of Charlie McAvoy’s impending return at Wednesday’s practice. It may be that the Bruins have another Brad Marchand situation on their hands.
Like Marchand on Oct. 26, the day before he made a surprise return against the Red Wings, McAvoy skated with the top unit. In five-man drills, he rolled with Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Jake DeBrusk, and Hampus Lindholm. McAvoy was tapped to lead the post-practice stretch and got a round of hugs.
If that weren’t enough of a sign that McAvoy’s reemergence is imminent, the Bruins placed defenseman Mike Reilly on waivers for purpose of assignment to AHL Providence. That could clear room for No. 73 under the salary cap.
However, as Marchand and coach Jim Montgomery said before Marchand’s season debut, the talk afterward was, “Hold up, not so fast.”
“He’s getting close,” said Montgomery, adding that McAvoy will be playing “within a week.”
But not Thursday against the Flames?
“I’m not going to confirm or deny that,” Montgomery said, “because there’s boxes still to check.”
One box might be the power play, which the Bruins — and McAvoy — did not run through Wednesday. Thursday’s morning skate is expected to be optional, so they likely won’t brush up on anything then, either.
But it may not be the final hurdle.
“We’re just going to get him going five-on-five initially, kind of like we did with [Matt] Grzelcyk when Grzelcyk came back,” Montgomery said. “He was playing so well we put him right on the power play. McAvoy knows how to run a power play. If he’s showing he’s flying out there, we’re going to put him back on the power play.”
Unless, perhaps, the five-forward look used in Monday night’s win over the Blues keeps rolling. With Marchand, Bergeron, DeBrusk, David Pastrnak, and David Krejci cooking, the Bruins went 2 for 2 and needed just 90 seconds of man-up time.
McAvoy, who on June 3 had arthroscopic stabilization surgery on his left shoulder, shrugged off questions about his timeline.
“Doing well,” he said when asked if he will play Thursday. “We’re just continuing to stack these boxes up and feel good about where we are. We’re just going one game at a time.”
What other steps does he have to take?
“Just internally, feeling good about where we are,” he said. “Those are conversations that we have. As far as check marks and things like that, just say that we feel really good about where we’re at. Getting excited.”
Montgomery plans to use McAvoy with different defense partners, including Lindholm and Grzelcyk, as the situation dictates.
“With how diverse our back end is, it gives us a lot of options depending on who we’re playing,” Montgomery said. “We’re really deep back there.”
Slightly so without Reilly, who could be claimed by Thursday’s 2 p.m. deadline. He passed through waivers last month, but some team with injuries or ineffectiveness could step up.
Swayman ‘ahead of schedule’
Goalie Jeremy Swayman (knee) is “a couple of days ahead of schedule,” Montgomery said. “He’s more mobile than we expected by now already. But he’s not even on the ice yet, so he’s not close.” … Montgomery on Connor Clifton’s go-go game: “I don’t think there’s a red light. There might be a yellow occasionally, but not very often. He’s full green.” … The Flames (5-5-2) have lost six in a row (0-4-2), dating to an Oct. 29 meeting with the hated Oilers. They opened the season by beating the Avalanche, Oilers, and Golden Knights.
The Flames could be without Jonathan Huberdeau. The team said he has an upper-body injury, though coach Darryl Sutter said after Tuesday’s loss to New Jersey that Huberdeau (who sat out) couldn’t put his foot in his skate. A reporter spotted him in a walking boot after the game. Huberdeau had one goal and five assists in 11 games before the injury and was criticized by Sutter for needing to “speed up his game.” The ex-Panther was third in scoring last season (30-85—115) and led the league in assists, before he was shipped to southern Alberta in a blockbuster involving Matthew Tkachuk … Defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, included in that trade, comes in 0-4—4 in 12 games … The Flames’ leading scorer is free agent signee Nazem Kadri (7-5—12), whom they added after seeing Boston College product Johnny Gaudreau walk to Columbus … Ex-Bruins Brett Ritchie (3-2—5) and Milan Lucic (0-3—3) provide beef on Calgary’s fourth line. Lucic is in the last year of the seven-year, $42 million deal then-Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli handed him in July 2016 … Another Spoked-B castoff, Dan Vladar (1-2-0, 3.81, .865), is in his second season as Calgary’s backup goalie.
Matt Porter can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.