By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Before he could make it across the press box to his seat among the other injured players early in the third period Monday, Bruins veteran defenseman Adam McQuaid had to stop cold in his tracks, stand behind several media members and watch the replay of what had just thrown TD Garden into a frenzy.
McQuaid, a veteran of more than 50 NHL fighting majors, got to see replays from a couple of different angles of his 19-year-old teammate Charlie McAvoy taking down Columbus rookie forward Pierre-Luc Dubois at the end of his first NHL fight.
“Pretty good,” McQuaid said. “Once he got the glove off, pretty good.”
“Glove” was the operative word because as McAvoy landed several punches to Dubois, a fellow rookie, with his right hand, he still had his glove on his left hand. One could forgive McAvoy for not being prepared to fight and going the unorthodox one-glove route because he came out of NCAA hockey where full pugilism is forbidden. But McAvoy explained the wardrobe malfunction was a result of being “latched on” to Dubois and not wanting to risk getting cleanly clocked while attempting to discard the second glove.
McAvoy had already scored a goal and later he assisted on Danton Heinen’s goal to complete the Gordie Howe Hat Trick, one of several amazing accomplishments in the Bruins’ 7-2 drubbing of the Blue Jackets. Eleven Bruins had at least one, Heinen and Jake DeBrusk had three points each, and even Ryan Spooner had two assists while the Bruins were scoring four goals in a 3:20 stretch of the third period to blow the doors off the game.
Considering how the Bruins looked a notch below in losing their prior two games against Metropolitan Division foes Washington and the New York Rangers, the Bruins ability to pulverize the Blue Jackets and their all-world goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was breathtaking.
“We came in knowing that they’re a really good team. The kind of success they had last year, the kind of success they’re having this year, they’re a team that needs to be respected – before the game [coach Bruce Cassidy] said that,” McAvoy said. “We kind of felt that … this was going to be a good opportunity for us to prove ourselves, to play against a good matchup against a good team and play our game and see what happens. We played our game to a tee. We got pucks behind all night, and we were really trying to make it hard on the forecheck. Once we set up in the O-zone, we were just trying to get pucks on net, and we had over 40 shots – something that we really wanted to do.”
But you probably could’ve gotten better odds before the game that Boston would score seven on Bobrovsky than that McAvoy would have a Gordie Howe Hat Trick. After all, even the former Boston University defenseman hadn’t given the accomplishment much thought.
“It definitely wasn’t even on the list,” said McAvoy, who has 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) and leads all NHL rookies in ice time (23:16). “I know that I try to play the game with a lot of passion and that’s something that [Dubois] was doing too. And stuff like that’s going to happen. There’s been times along the line this year where something like that might’ve happened. But tonight it just did, it happened really quick and I feel like I was able to protect myself pretty well.”
McAvoy said the only fighting tutorial he’s received since turning pro was a quick session with former Bruins tough guy Tyler Randell during a Providence Bruins practice last season. He had to know those tips could eventually come in handy because of the way he plays the game. McAvoy hits like a Mac truck, and even though his hits are mostly clean, depending on the receiver of the hit, getting one’s bones rattled by someone too young to drink in the U.S. can be inflammatory.
McQuaid wasn’t the only gritty Bruin impressed by McAvoy’s fisticuff.
“It was great. I’ve never seen an angry side of him, so it was good to see that. He did pretty well,” Bruins forward Tim Schaller said.
Every Bruins player did well in burying the Blue Jackets, but McAvoy was the only one who had observers stopping in their tracks and opponents falling to the ice with a face full of fist.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @MattKalman.