On Day 2, Charlie McAvoy skates with Zdeno Chara
Bruce Cassidy didn’t leave the greatest hint in the world when he was asked about slotting Charlie McAvoy with Zdeno Chara. He did leave the door open to that possibility, however.
“Charlie is a player who will play on the right side if he gets in the lineup,” Cassidy said following Monday’s practice in Brighton. “There’s a chance tomorrow that we might put him there with Zee, or Kevan Miller who has played [on the] left [side]. I think Charlie to have a more veteran guy would help.”
One day after skating with John-Michael Liles in his first practice with the big club, McAvoy got a new assignment in Day 2. Instead of slotting with Liles or Miller, the former Boston University Terrier skated alongside captain Zdeno Chara in the team’s final practice at Warrior Ice Arena before traveling to Ottawa.
Looking up to a 6-foot-9 defenseman who played his first NHL game 32 days before his day of birth was an adjustment and an experience for the highly-touted McAvoy.
“It was kind of shocking at first moving the puck out there with a guy like that. He’s such an amazing player.” the 19-year-old McAvoy said about skating with the Bruins captain.
“He was really good to me today and we talked a lot on the ice. Just kind of little lessons here and there…and it goes a long way really.”
In his short two-day time span with Boston and his brief four-game stint with Providence, McAvoy has already gotten a few lessons from seasoned professionals.
On Tuesday, McAvoy had more knowledge thrust upon him from Chara, who has skated with his share of fellow youngsters in the past, including Brandon Carlo and Dougie Hamilton.
“A little bit of everything,” McAvoy said about the wisdom Chara shared with him on Tuesday. “Just [some] little stuff here and there, and to be each other’s eyes and ears out there and to know when to make the plays and stuff like that. It was just really nice to have him out there leading the ship I guess for myself and the team.”
To say that social media was excited to see this pairing tweeted out was an understatement. But is the Chara-McAvoy pairing the best possible top defensive unit for Game 1 tomorrow night at the Canadian Capital?
Well, given the injuries to two of their top four defensemen in Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug and the depth behind them, the Chara-McAvoy duo may very well be the best solution for Cassidy and the coaching staff.
Being paired on the top blue-line unit is a tough task for any rookie, let alone someone without a single game of NHL experience prior to the postseason. Given McAvoy’s performance in big games and Chara’s experience with younger players, this opportunity could prove beneficial to the ex-Terrier, a former Norris Trophy winner and the rest of the Black and Gold as they prepare for a seven-game series against Guy Boucher’s 1-3-1 system.
“I’m not going to get ahead of myself,” Cassidy said about the potential Game 1 pairing of McAvoy and Chara. “I’m not saying [McAvoy] won’t play with Zee [Chara], but we like the young guys with Zee. Zee likes to be the big brother and he relishes in that role.”
“When you put a young guy with a partner,” Cassidy added, “I think that partner has to have some sort of communication skills and want to do it. It’s pretty tough for a young kid to come in where a guy is in his own world and only focused on his job, it makes it a little more difficult.”
With McAvoy being thrown into the fire, the potential of skating with Chara can only ease his difficult transition.