Charlie McAvoy’s goal now is to match goalie Pekka Rinne’s offensive output

Matt Kalman
January 10, 2020 - 1:49 pm

The news resonated across the NHL on Thursday night: Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne became the first netminder to score a goal since 2013 when he hit an empty net from right near his own crease in a win at the Chicago Blackhawks.

Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy could barely take hearing about it.

“Now it’s official, panic button time,” McAvoy lightheartedly said to WEEI.com after practice at Warrior Ice Arena on Friday. “What a [jerk>, why’d he have to do that?”

McAvoy is the NHL average and total ice-time leader among players who’ve played at least 21 games and haven’t scored a goal this season. The drought it 42 games heading into the Bruins game at the New York Islanders on Saturday, 48 if you count him not scoring in the last six games of last year’s playoffs or 46 if you just count the regular season.

The 22-year-old, however, is keeping a level head.

“Nah, I just keep playing my game, man,” he said. “I’ve hit posts and I’ve had so many chances. I don’t know, I’ve never seen this before. But I know that if I let it consume me, then I won’t play the game that I want to play. And part of the game that I want to play is getting production, points and stuff. It’s just been weird, it’s been a weird year. But I do like my game for stuff other than that. So I can’t sell out for that. Hopefully it’ll come soon now because I don’t know how long I’m going to be able to see all that stuff, ‘Pekka Rinne’s got more goals than that guy.’”

McAvoy doesn’t have to look far for teammates who’ve gone through similar struggles. Brandon Carlo didn’t score in 76 games during the 2017-18 season. Offensive dynamo Torey Krug went 54 games without a goal in 2015-16. They’ve all survived and come out of their slumps for the better.

McAvoy has attempted 57 shots this season, and his 1.36 shots per game is down just a little from last season (1.46), when he scored seven goals. General manager Don Sweeney recently said in a radio interview that he’d like McAvoy to be more selfish, and the player has taken that notion to heart.

“Yeah, I think sometimes call my own number more, like shooting pucks. Which I’ve been trying to do, shoot the puck more, like if I get the puck in the middle of the ice on the power play, look more like shot-focused than anything,” McAvoy said. “And good things usually happen, like last night, shooting the puck, just getting it to the net, and we kind of had a focus before on that play to just get a quick one-timer and then something good will happen.”

McAvoy did in fact shoot the puck to set up Jake DeBrusk’s game-winning goal in the 5-4 win against Winnipeg on Thursday.

If he keeps doing that, sooner or later the bounce will go his way. And as long as those other parts of his game that he likes stay at a high level, coach Bruce Cassidy will keep giving him plenty of ice time to keep trying to match Rinne’s season’s goal total.

Chara's return imminent

McAvoy’s regular defense partner Zdeno Chara was back on the ice Friday after sitting out the win against the Jets. The Bruins captain is expected to play against the Islanders after Cassidy and Sweeney had to convince him to take a night off.

“We talked to him … about the danger of playing through what he’s going through. He wants to play every game, but that was a decision made higher up that he should take the day off. And he did begrudgingly, but he wants to get back in there tomorrow and I believe he will be,” Cassidy said.

Chara was brief with his answers Friday, as you would expect from someone dealing with a painful abscess stemming from his broken jaw in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final and the subsequent surgeries.

The 42-year-old, who’s scheduled to play his 1,000th Bruins game Monday in Philadelphia, might not be out of the woods yet as far as this reoccurring infection is concerned. All he can do is hope because with Chara, sitting out a longer period of time is not an option.

“Yeah I hope so. Yeah it’s very unfortunate, sometimes these things happen for whatever reasons,” said Char, who will have the benefit of the All-Star break and bye week later this month. “This one obviously came out of nowhere in the morning on the Nashville game. So right away we were kind of taking precautionary actions and ended up obviously monitoring it closely. And yeah, so that’s just where it’s at right now.”

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