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McAvoy "Terrific" in NHL Debut

Rookie defenseman played over 24 minutes in his first game

by Chris Weyant @NHLBruins / - "It's okay to be nervous. Every kid goes through it, their first game."

Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy knew that Charlie McAvoy could have some butterflies coming into his NHL debut, especially on a grand stage such as Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs - on the road.

But that was before the puck dropped.

Roughly three and a half hours after Cassidy's remarks, with 2:33 remaining in the third period, the 19-year-old Long Beach, N.Y. native was taking part in his first NHL goal celebration.

The five-man unit of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, and McAvoy put together an iron-man shift, making play after play to keep the Ottawa Senators hemmed in their own zone. McAvoy pinched from his right point to keep a puck in the attacking zone late in the shift, eventually leading to Marchand's winning goal in Boston's 2-1 victory over the Senators.

"We just kept puck after puck after puck and we were able to get that fortunate bounce there, and it turns out to be the game-winning goal, so that was awesome," said McAvoy.

Video: McAvoy speaks after NHL Debut in Ottawa

The former Boston University standout finished out his debut with a team-high 29 shifts and 24:11 of time on ice, second on the team to Zdeno Chara's 25:32.

"I don't really think about the ice time or the numbers," said McAvoy. "I kind of just sit there and wait for Coach to call my name, and then I just try and bring it every single shift."

Cassidy was impressed enough to call his name early and often. After two periods, McAvoy was leading the team in time-on-ice, a nod towards the confidence the coaching staff had in his abilities to defend and help break the puck out of the Bruins' end and through Ottawa's neutral zone trap.

"I thought he was terrific," said Cassidy. "We were having trouble breaking pucks out, and that's an element of his game he does well and we needed it tonight."

The need for a strong, puck-moving defenseman was high at the game's outset given the absence of Torey Krug. That need became even more dire when Colin Miller left the game in the second period after an awkward neutral zone collision with Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki.

"Losing Colin Miller sort of magnifies the situation," Cassidy lamented. "If [McAvoy] struggled, we would have really been in trouble, so it was a nice boost for us."

The Bruins had four power plays in the game, three of which came in the first period. McAvoy was thrown into the fire, manning Torey Krug's usual post on the first power play unit.

Although they were unable to come away with tangible results, the B's buzzed around Ottawa's net, forcing Craig Anderson to make a number of fantastic stops and generating momentum for the Bruins.

"What he does is what we needed," said David Backes. "Moving pucks and rolling that first power-play, and that will only get better as they get more familiar with each other."

McAvoy drew high praise from many of his teammates, who were no doubt happy to see him shoulder such a large load, especially down a defenseman for over half of the game.

"He did a great job for a young player coming into that situation," said Adam McQuaid. "He played a ton, and I think sometimes, that can be a good thing. You don't have to think as much."

"It was impressive," added Bergeron. "You would think it's a lot of pressure coming in like that as a 19-year-old. His first game is the first game of the playoffs, it's not easy to do."

"There's not much you can say about his game other than that he was phenomenal last night."

Cassidy also pointed to players like McAvoy and David Pastrnak providing a youthful exuberance around the dressing room that can rub off on the veterans.

"Those are the guys you want in your lineup that want the puck when the game's on the line or in big moments," said Cassidy. "The more of those guys we can grow and develop and integrate into the lineup, the better off we're going to be. It rubs off on the older guys. You ask any veteran player, they see these young, youthful guys that have no fear when the puck drops, it's only going to make them more energetic.

"Just like their leadership will rub off on the young guys, their energy rubs off on the older guys."

Amid all of the hype leading up to his highly anticipated debut - with his parents in attendance - McAvoy made sure to set aside a couple moments to soak the atmosphere and moment in.

"I kind of did take a look up and saw the building that we were in, with so many fans, it was really packed tonight and loud. It was pretty special," said McAvoy.

"Overall, just an amazing experience tonight."

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