The Bruins are one step closer toward a clean bill of health as Charlie McAvoy returns to the lineup for Saturday’s Original Six tilt with the Maple Leafs in Toronto.
The injury-plagued McAvoy missed 27 games to injury this season. Yet, he escaped missing more time the last time these two teams met on Dec. 8 after Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman delivered a late and unnecessary hit to the third-year defenseman during the final stanza.
Hyman earned a three-game ban for the hit. McAvoy recovered in time for the B’s tilt in Ottawa the next day. The ex-Boston University standout went back on the injured list after sustaining a foot infection over the Christmas break.
But the Bruins are getting McAvoy back at a good time as they look to inch closer toward the Leafs in the standings. Only four points separate the two teams for second place in the Atlantic Division as the two squads meet for the fourth and final time in the regular season.
“We play them hard every single time we play. You know, it’s an emotional game. Obviously, we had a very emotional playoff series last year,” McAvoy told the press pregame.
“I know in here we’re always excited in here to get up and play these guys and in there building. I think we’ve had a lot of luck in our building, but in here we’re looking to kind of change that around and play well here.”
McAvoy hopes to help that cause, but will he also be out for revenge against Hyman? That doesn’t seem likely after addressing that question during his pregame media availability at Scotiabank arena.
“I don’t really think that hit changes much,” McAvoy added. “You just get caught up in the emotion of playing hockey. It’s an emotional game, and I try to play with that same fire and same emotion.”
Indeed, the Bruins hope to get an emotional victory and set the tone for another potential postseason showdown.
John Moore’s first healthy scratch of the season paves the way for McAvoy’s return. Tuukka Rask gets the nod between the pipes, while Michael Hutchinson makes his fifth straight start as Frederik Andersen, who was originally scheduled to return Saturday after nursing a groin injury, deals with flu-like symptoms.
Here’s a look at the lineups for Game No. 45 of the Bruins’ 2018-19 campaign.
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