Charlie McAvoy likely to return with Bruins Saturday
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy did not say the team was being extra cautious in evaluating Charlie McAvoy after Friday’s practice. But Cassidy likely did not want to jinx anything regarding the status of the defenseman for a likely return to the lineup Saturday in Toronto.
McAvoy, who has not played since a 5-3 loss at Carolina Dec. 23, appears to have recovered from a foot infection. But so many things have gone wrong since McAvoy joined the Bruins last season, it would be unwise to tempt the fates.
“It’s trending that way,” Cassidy said of McAvoy’s return. “We’re officially going to announce [Saturday]. Let’s get through pregame skate, it may be an optional.
“But then the obvious question is: Who comes out? But today we practiced a certain way, so you can make your own conclusions. He goes in the right side, it will probably come down to [Matt Grzelcyk] or [John] Moore on the left side, balance the three lefts, three rights.
“Again, we’ll know more tomorrow. But it’s certainly looking like he’ll get in.”
McAvoy paired with Zdeno Chara during a near-one-hour practice session at Warrior Ice Arena Friday.
McAvoy, who has played 17 games this season, was injured during a 4-0 win at Montreal Dec. 17 but continued playing with a cut on his foot stitched. He finally went on the injured list with a foot infection. Last January, McAvoy underwent a procedure for an irregular heartbeat, then sustained a knee injury late in the season. During training camp, he experienced vestibular problems. He missed two months with a concussion this season.
Asked about McAvoy’s possible impact against Toronto, Cassidy said, “I think we’ve played them well no matter who’s been in the lineup, so we’re comfortable in that regard. Maybe comfortable’s not the right word, but we’re confident if we play our game we can do well against Toronto.
“I think it’s more about us in general. I think it’s unfair to judge Charlie right away, too quickly. So, let’s probably revisit this, assuming we stay healthy, maybe later next week when Charlie’s played a few more games and see where we’re at.
“I think our guys relish it, it’s becoming a very good rivalry [with Toronto]. It already was, but I think it’s growing. Obviously, it’s important to stay up with them, so in that regard it’s a little more than just your average 2-point game. We always enjoy playing Toronto, they are generally good-hearted games.
“Coming out of [Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Capitals], little disappointed things didn’t go better for us. But they made some plays when they needed to and we didn’t. It usually comes down to that when two good teams play and I suspect that will be the case.”
The Bruins had a five-game winning streak snapped by the Capitals and could be facing another playoff preview against the Maple Leafs. They took a 5-1 win over Toronto Nov. 10.
“It’s something you think about even in the summertime,” Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk said. “Obviously, with our division, how the playoffs are set up, you understand you’re probably going to have to go through one of those two teams, if not both of them, just to get through.
“It’s one of those things you don’t think about day to day but it’s definitely in the back of our minds and that’s why it’s even bigger than just a 4-point game. You want to kind of set the tone on different fronts.
“I thought the guys did a great job last time playing against Toronto. I wasn’t in the lineup [but] it was one of those games I was proud to watch and hopefully we get a similar effort there. It’s a different game in Toronto, but at the same time, if we play the way we played here, it will help our chances.”
Former Bruins right wing Rick Nash is retiring because of concussion-related issues, his representatives announced Friday.
Nash, 34, was one of the game’s premier forwards at his peak, but head injuries marred the second half of his 15-year NHL career, which finished with an 11-game stint in Boston last spring (plus 12 games in the playoffs).
The No. 1 overall pick in 2002 by Columbus, Nash won a goal-scoring title (41) as a 19-year-old in 2004 and hit the 40-goal mark three times. He finished with 437 goals and 805 points in 1,060 games.
He was third among active players in goals when he retired, behind Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Marleau.
“Due to unresolved issues/symptoms from the concussion sustained last March, Rick Nash will be forced to retire from the game of hockey,” his agent, Joe Resnick, said in a statement. “Under the advice of his medical team, the risk of further brain injury is far too great if Rick returns to play.”
The Bruins hoped Nash would be a fit on David Krejci’s flank when they acquired him from the Rangers last Feb. 25. Nash went 3-3—6 in the regular season, produced a 3-2—5 line in the postseason, and sustained a concussion in March. He also had one in 2013, as a member of the Rangers.
Nash, who was an unrestricted free agent, contemplated returning to either Boston or Columbus, where he had signed the last deal of his career (eight years, $62.4 million) and was the former expansion franchise’s first superstar.
The Bruins acquired Boston native Paul Carey, a forward, from the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Cody Goloubef.
In six years with the Senators, Rangers, Capitals, and Avalanche, Carey has 8 goals and 8 assists in 97 games.
Carey, 30, who played four years at Boston College (2008-12), will report to AHL Providence. Goloubef, 29, had appeared in 16 games for Providence this season, tallying three goals and 12 points.
Matt Porter of the Globe staff contributed.