ELMONT, N.Y. — Heading into the 2021-22 campaign, Charlie McAvoy had Dec. 16 circled on his calendar.
At that point, he expected to once again meet up with friends and family during another return home to his childhood home in Long Beach, New York. And this time, they’d all get together at UBS Arena, the Islanders’ sparkling, state-of-the-art facility.
But the Boston Bruins hit a road bump along the way. The COVID-ridden bunch couldn’t field a full 20-man roster during their first visit to the Isles’ new shrine.
Given the circumstances, the Bruins put forth a decent effort in that 2-0 setback. Yet, as the country — and the world — embarked on the omicron outbreak, the first UBS Arena trip remained a forgettable experience.
“Last year felt like a whirlwind. It was like half the team had COVID. We showed up the same day, and we flew in and flew out,” McAvoy recalled. “It was a weird experience. I wouldn’t say it was very fun. Very depleted as a group that day.”
With the virus spreading throughout league ranks, the NHL put their season on hold hours following their last scheduled slate. The improving conditions allowed the Bruins to take in the sights upon their next visit to the Isle in February.
This time, the Bruins got to tour around UBS Arena as a league-leading bunch. And indeed, the McAvoy clan got a chance to reunite ahead of the first half of Boston’s visit to the Empire State.
“This will be more fun. I got to see the family yesterday, and today take in the arena,” McAvoy said following Boston’s optional skate. “We’ll see it tonight, and hopefully, it will be packed.”
Given their historic pace, the Bruins remain one tough ticket purchase. And they’ll likely play in front of a packed building of Islanders supporters with a handful of passionate and well-traveled B’s fans sprinkling in.
The trend will likely continue Thursday when the Bruins visit Madison Square Garden for their second tilt of the season with the Rangers. The World’s Most Famous Arena remains quite a familiar sight for McAvoy, who often made the trek with his father on the LIRR growing up donning every Rangers jersey from former greats, including Wayne Gretzky, Brian Leetch, Adam Graves and Jaromir Jagr, to ex-role players like Petr Prucha.
“I clocked a lot of hours on that train,” McAvoy said.
“I had so many Rangers jerseys, man. We had Leetch jerseys, we had Gretzky jerseys, Graves…and then later on, I had Jagr, Prucha. I was wearing No. 25 in youth hockey, so I had to get that.”
Amid the torrid pace, McAvoy and Boston’s D hope to continue its recent scoring trend. And perhaps their final New York visit of the regular season will provide another memorable chapter during the Bruins’ historic run to date.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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