RALEIGH, NC — Boston Bruins star defenseman Charlie McAvoy has cleared COVID-19 protocols and will take warmups in anticipation of playing vs. the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night in Game 5, the team announced.
After the morning skate, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters that McAvoy and fellow defenseman Hampus Lindholm (upper-body injury) would miss Tuesday’s game. Cassidy said there was no timeline for McAvoy’s return but that he was already “feeling better.”
Sources told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, however, that McAvoy arrived later in the day via private jet arranged by Bruins ownership, and that he walked into PNC Arena wearing an N95 mask in time for warm-ups.
The veteran’s return could be a major boost as the Bruins try to take a 3-2 series lead on the road. McAvoy was a late scratch for the Game 4 win Sunday in Boston, and Lindholm hasn’t since been leveled on a jarring shoulder-to-chest hit from Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov in the team’s Game 2 loss. Cassidy said Lindholm did not travel to North Carolina for Game 5.
McAvoy and Lindholm worked together as Boston’s top defensive pairing in Game 1 before Cassidy juggled the lineup for Game 2, moving Matt Grzelcyk up to play alongside McAvoy and putting Lindholm alongside Brandon Carlo.
McAvoy’s presence bolsters the back line in several ways for the Bruins. He would, most likely, lead Boston’s defensemen in minutes played and would likely see time on the power play and the penalty kill.
McAvoy, 24, is a former first-round pick who posted 10 goals and 56 points this season for the Bruins. He has two assists this series and is averaging 25:15 minutes. McAvoy has been in the playoffs every year of his NHL career.
The Bruins fell into a 0-2 hole before rallying with two victories at TD Garden.