There were many thoughts running through Charlie McAvoy’s head as soon as the puck slipped past Robin Lehner and found twine in the Blackhawks’ net on Wednesday night.
First? Relief, as to be expected when you finally snap a goalless streak that stretched all the way back to May 27, 2019 — Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Joy came next, given that McAvoy’s OT strike capped off a 2-1 victory for Boston — with the club’s fifth consecutive win launching the B’s to the top of the NHL standings once again.
Then? Perhaps a fleeting moment of anxiety — given the amount of teammates piled on top of him on the United Center ice.
"They wouldn't let me up,” McAvoy joked postgame. “After about 30 seconds, I'm like, ‘I guess we're staying in Chicago tonight.’”
All kidding aside, McAvoy didn’t mask those sentiments of alleviation following his first goal of the 2019-20 season. Try as he might to tune out the noise, you can only do so much — especially given the amount of minutes the 22-year-old skater logs on Boston’s blue line.
“It’s tough. It weighs, as much as you don't want to say it, you think about it and your confidence and everything,” McAvoy said. “You feel like you can contribute a set amount and sometimes when it's not there, it takes a bit of a hit. But as I said to these guys, ‘Thanks for keeping my confidence high.’ They all do. Everybody just saying, ‘It's coming, it's coming.’ Their response there was pretty neat.”
The mobbing that took place after McAvoy lit the lamp — highlighted by Jake DeBrusk’s form tackle (alright, maybe just a tad high) — was a fitting sight given the looming cloud hovering over McAvoy all season when it comes to his scoring drought.
But, for as much as the negative narratives surrounding McAvoy in 2019-20 have hinged around his lack of tallies, the notion of Wednesday’s game being a breakthrough showing from the defenseman is a bit misguided.
Yes, it’s fantastic to see McAvoy finally break through and etch his name in the box score, but he’s been far from a net negative when it comes to production in the O-zone.