Bruins

A monster game from Charlie McAvoy helped Bruins right the ship during a ‘must-win’ game

(Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

There was no magic elixir prescribed Sunday that was going to magically revert Boston's sieve-like defense into the stout presence it was through the first month of the 2021 season.

No top-four reinforcements to shore up a D corps that relinquished 13 goals in the span of just two games.

No game-changing adjustment to stop the bleeding and curb the slew of Grade-A chances Boston was coughing up in front of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak.

No, if the Bruins were going to right the ship defensively, it was going to be incumbent on the six skaters on the blue line — five of which were all culpable for the sordid results that played out on Thursday and Friday in New York — to snap the B's out of these lopsided results.

It was a reality Charlie McAvoy was fully cognizant of when speaking Saturday, offering both a challenge — and opportunity – for the regulars on the B's defense to rewrite the narrative that a young and banged-up D corps wasn't up to the standards set by the Original Six franchise.

"The culture of this team is winning," McAvoy said. "It's what we're kind of accustomed to, it's what we're used to. So when we're losing games, you can tell — it's not something that we're okay with.'

Those sentiments certainly translated out onto the Madison Square Garden ice on Sunday afternoon, to say the least.

While Boston's franchise cornerstones up front in Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand have all been as advertised in terms of guiding the B's to their 12-5-2 start this season, you could make the case that the 23-year-old McAvoy has been right there with the trio as MVPs of this club — especially given McAvoy's importance on a Bruins D corps rocked by injuries and the incorporation of new, young talent.

And that value to this club perhaps has never been as evident as it was on Sunday afternoon, as a dominant showing from McAvoy on the blue line played a pivotal role in a bounce-back performance for the Bruins in what was, by all intents and purposes, a must-win game down in New York.

McAvoy's impact can be measured just in terms of his baseline totals following Sunday's 4-1 victory over the Rangers, with the top-pairing defenseman orchestrating Charlie Coyle's opening tally in the first period before later blasting home his third goal of the season in the second frame.

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That continued development of McAvoy's offensive game (his 15 points rank 10th among all NHL defensemen) has helped elevate the Long Island native into the Norris Trophy discussion this season, but McAvoy has been far more than just an offensive conduit in wake of Torey Krug's departure. In fact, when you factor in what McAvoy brings in the O-zone with the shot-suppression totals he's compiled this season, there are very few players in the league that have tilted the ice so far in the direction of their club quite like McAvoy has in 2021.

Look no further than McAvoy's performance against the Rangers, in which the Blueshirts struggled to generate much of anything when McAvoy was out patrolling the MSG ice.

In total, during the 18:43 of 5v5 ice time that McAvoy logged on Sunday, the Bruins held some lopsided advantages in terms of: