By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — If your defense just doesn’t cover Charlie McAvoy, chances are you’re going to have a bad time.
The Bruins’ wunderkind rookie defenseman has not looked like one for most of the season. He leads all rooks (by far) in average ice time with 23:07 per game, nearly four more minutes than Flyers blue liner Robert Hagg. He’s also third among all rookie defensemen with nine points, trailing only the Lightning’s Mikhail Sergachev and the Devils’ Will Butcher.
Incredibly, McAvoy is still just 19 years old (he turns 20 on Dec. 21). His ability to quickly adapt to the NHL game with his defense and physicality, at the hardest position in hockey to grasp mentally, has been eye-opening. But his offensive game also has a chance to be special, as he showed on a slick goal he scored on Thursday night to put the Bruins up 1-0.
Receiving the puck off a faceoff in the offensive zone, McAvoy waltzed past the Kings’ Tanner Pearson and L.A. was pretty much doomed from there. Defenseman Derek Forbort inexplicably turned his back and over-committed to covering Danton Heinen just as McAvoy was bearing down on the net. The rookie happily took the puck all the way to Jonathan Quick and nonchalantly roofed a backhand into the net.
Despite the ugly defensive breakdown by the Kings, McAvoy still proved that you can’t just let him glide around with the puck or over-pursue him. He’s too smooth of a skater with too much skill. Have to keep him honest or he’ll make you pay.
It’s been a mostly up-and-down start to the season for the Bruins’ young players, but for McAvoy it’s been more “up.” Because of plays like this, it’s hard not to be impressed with the kid.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, CBS, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.