Had the original prognosis timed out as projected in the wake of his offseason shoulder surgery, Charlie McAvoy just now would be approaching his return to the Bruins.
Instead, the franchise defenseman was back to punch the clock Nov. 9, and Tuesday night vs. Tampa Bay will be his ninth game. On Friday, the 24-year-old backliner delivered with a bang, dishing out a pair of smacks in the second period that rattled the Hurricanes and shook the Bruins from their lethargy, helping propel them to a 3-2 OT win.
Aside from his dependable offense, that’s the kind of moxie the Bruins love to see, and often need, from the 6-foot-1-inch, 210-pound McAvoy. He is not a prolific hitter, but when he delivers, and with a purpose, it can be with game-changing mojo. The hits vs. Carolina — the first to Andrei Svechnikov, the next seconds later to Jesperi Kotkaniemi — showed that McAvoy is confident in how the shoulder has healed.
It’s no small feat to have McAvoy delivering with such thump so soon. Upon his return, he noted that it could be a full year before the shoulder was back at max strength. He knew he would deal with limitations through the season.
If he has any lingering hesitation, it certainly didn’t show when he belted those two forwards from the matinee on Black Friday into a black-and-blue Saturday.
“That tells me he’s fine,” said Bruins coach Jim Montgomery “That’s what he does, that’s Charlie. He’s a gamer.”
He wants more
Brad Marchand is not happy with his production, but it’s the veteran winger’s nature to be somewhat out of sorts, always thinking he can do better. He, too, returned well ahead of what the doctors suggested when he had both hips surgically tuned up over the summer.
Marchand returned Oct. 27, some five weeks ahead of schedule, and connected that night for 1-2—3 vs. the Red Wings. Through 13 games, he has delivered a 6-11—17 line, an impressive average of 1.31 points per game.
In his career season, 2018-19, Marchand popped for 100 points, an average of 1.26 per game. But while he’s connecting now at an even better rate, he believes that he can deliver more, particularly during five-on-five, noting that he still lacks full strength and stamina while the hips return to full working order.
“I’m searching for a lot right now,” Marchand said over the weekend. “There was a lot of excitement in that first game against Detroit. I played on a lot of adrenaline, but it’s been kind of downhill since there.”
As of Monday, only 10 NHLers who had played a minimum 10 games could boast better than a 1.31 points-per-game average. Obviously, Marchand’s head is a tough room to work, and no one finds it tougher to work there than the guy who carries those thoughts.
If Marchand can keep up that 1.31 pace, and play all remaining 61 regular-season games, he’ll finish with 97 points, second only to his 100-point best.
“I still have to get my conditioning up to where it needs to be to play at the level I need to play at,” noted Marchand. “I knew it was going to be a work in progress, and that was part of why I wanted to come back early. If I came back at the end of November, it was going to take till January or February to feel good, to get back to my game.”
Stralman is waived
The Bruins placed veteran defenseman Anton Stralman on waivers Monday, some five hours after he led the club in its post-workout cooldown/stretch in Brighton.
The move is a harbinger of Derek Forbort drawing back in the lineup, perhaps as early as Tuesday night.
On Nov. 1, Forbort broke a finger that required surgery, and Montgomery said over the weekend that the big backliner was all but certain to return no later than Saturday’s visit by the Avalanche.
Stralman (eight games, 0-0—0, minus-3) has played well in a reserve role and would be a valuable asset to store at AHL Providence. He is a smooth skater and smart and precise with his passes.
Ullmark good to go
Linus Ullmark, who exited Friday’s win when dinged in a goal-mouth pileup in the third period, was the first one on the ice for Monday’s 40-minute workout. Per Montgomery, the 13-1-0 Ullmark will be available to play Tuesday, be it as starter or backup to Jeremy Swayman … Trent Frederic, who suffered an undisclosed injury during last Monday’s 5-3 win in Tampa, likely will return to the lineup Tuesday. He skated right wing in the workout on a line with Taylor Hall and Charlie Coyle … The Hurricanes, beaten by David Pastrnak’s OT dagger, managed more lead time (43:53) at the Garden Friday than the previous 11 visitors combined. The Bruins’ home-ice advantage through 12 games: 401:14 to 57:15 … As of Monday, the Bruins ranked No. 2 in power-play percentage (29.3, tied with Edmonton) and penalty killing (84.3).
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.