Charlie McAvoy gave all the signs that he could make his season debut on Thursday against the Calgary Flames, but neither he nor Coach Jim Montgomery would actually say it.

On Wednesday, the Bruins took the same careful approach that they did with Brad Marchand with regard to public comments in his lead-up to his first game back from double hip surgery. In that case, they declined to definitively say that the player was ready to play until the morning of his first game back on Oct. 27 against the Red Wings out of an abundance of caution that everything felt just right.

Asked if McAvoy – making his way back from offseason shoulder surgery – is where Marchand was the day before the star left wing returned, Montgomery chuckled.

“McAvoy is checking a lot of boxes. He’s getting close. He’ll be playing within a week, I think,” said Montgomery.

But, he was asked, not Thursday?

“I’m not going to confirm or deny that, because there’s boxes left to be checked,” said Montgomery.


Whether those boxes are significant or something along the lines of “must eat a healthy breakfast,” McAvoy did look like a man preparing to play his first game. In practice at Warrior Ice Arena, he was the first man up to skate with Hampus Lindholm on the initial line rushes. He also was the man in the middle for the team’s end-of-practice stretch and got all sorts of hugs after it.

That mirrored Marchand’s last practice day before his first game. The only thing different was that McAvoy did not do what Marchand had done and skate on the first power-play unit. But the power play was not practiced on Wednesday, and Montgomery said later that he’d let McAvoy get his feet wet in 5-on-5 play before throwing him on the power play, anyway.

“I’m doing well. We’re just continuing to stack these boxes up and feel good about where we are. We’re just going one day at a time,” said McAvoy.

Like Marchand, McAvoy was initially pegged for a late November/early December return and, whether he plays Thursday or not, it looks like he’ll beat that.

“I think it’s a testament to everyone, really, the docs, the trainers everybody and obviously working hard to get back early. And we’re getting close,” said McAvoy. “You obviously have to get to the point where the healing integrity of the (shoulder is strong), you have to be sure of that. So that’s really the most important step and from there it’s feel, it’s listening to your body, it’s accomplishing things you need to in order to play.”

While there’s certainly some contact in a regular practice, there is not as much of it as there once was.


“You try your best and that’s something continuing to do right now, getting into battles and lifting sticks hard and having guys try to rub you out, taking that contact and trying to feel good,” said McAvoy. “That’s something that’s big, especially as a defenseman, feeling confident when you’re going back on pucks that whatever position you’re in, you’re going to be able to make the play, you’re not going to be worrying about that contact. It’s hard to mimic the game (in practice) but I think we’ve done a good job of trying to.”

While Montgomery said that he’ll probably move McAvoy around a bit whenever he does come back, it does appear that he’ll load with his two horses, McAvoy and Lindholm, to start.

“(Lindholm) has been playing awesome hockey, as are all the defensemen, really. You don’t have the start we’ve had collectively without everyone pulling the rope,” said McAvoy. “To watch these guys every night has been amazing. And Lindy has certainly looked incredible and he’s been playing amazing. It’s been really fun to watch. And I think it’s important for everyone to take his share for where we are right now. If I do get to play with Lindy, that would be a blast. He’s a great defenseman and would definitely make my life easy.”’

NOTES: In a move to possibly clear up cap space for a McAvoy return, the Bruins placed Mike Reilly on waivers for a second time. He cleared waivers at the start of the season…. Jeremy Swayman has not yet begun skating, though Montgomery did say his level of flexibility has been encouraging.

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