BOSTON - Charlie McAvoy has been making sure to take it all in.
Just two-plus years into his National Hockey League career, the 21-year-old blue liner is about to embark on a journey that some never get to experience.
"Definitely taking a step back and looking at where we are and saying, 'Wow this is something that could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. A lot of people never even make it this far,'" said McAvoy. "Count my blessings and try to slow it down and not blink. That being said, we're only here. We've gotten here and we've earned that, but we still have another goal in mind."
That objective: bringing a seventh Stanley Cup championship to Boston.
"I'm soaking it up," said McAvoy, who along with his teammates will open up the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night against the St. Louis Blues. "I'm going through this for the first time. I was actually talking to one of our trainers, Donny [DelNegro], and he was kind of making the joke that, look at where you are, you're 21 years old and you made it this far.
"You're playing in the Stanley Cup Final at this age. For the rest of your career, you'll have this to look back on. And once you have these experiences you can go through anything as far as hockey goes."
Video: Charlie McAvoy cherishing chance at Cup
That is the exact kind of battle-tested attitude that emanates from the Black & Gold's championship-winning veterans. With Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, and Tuukka Rask - each set for their third Final appearances - leading the way, Boston's young core has been feeling more at ease as their first Cup Final approaches.
"Just not to overthink things," Brandon Carlo, in the midst of his third NHL campaign and first postseason, said when asked what advice he's received from the team's older players. "You can get ahead of yourself and start to think about all the possibilities and whatnot. But they've done a really good job of letting us take some time away from hockey, as well, and regroup as individuals mentally."
That guidance from Boston's leading men has, no doubt, been paying dividends. While the Bruins boast seven players who have been to the Final (to the Blues' one), the vast majority of the roster - 14 players in total - is on its inaugural Stanley Cup journey.
Bruins Stanley Cup Experience
Seven members of the Black & Gold have played in Final. Fourteen have not.
|Patrice Bergeron ||13 ||Noel Acciari |
|Zdeno Chara ||13 ||David Backes |
|David Krejci ||13 ||Charlie Coyle |
|Brad Marchand ||13 ||Jake DeBrusk |
|Torey Krug ||6 ||Danton Heinen |
|Tuukka Rask ||6 ||Marcus Johansson |
| John Moore || 4 (NYR) ||Karson Kuhlman |
| || ||Sean Kuraly |
| || ||Joakim Nordstrom |
| || ||David Pastrnak |
| || ||Brandon Carlo |
| || ||Connor Clifton |
| || ||Matt Grzelcyk |
| || ||Steven Kampfer |
| || ||Charlie McAvoy |
| || ||Jaroslav Halak |
|Veterans ||GP ||First-Timer |
"I would hope it would be an advantage for us…those guys have been great," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "I've said it more this week, right now, this downtime, I think a lot of young guys aren't sure how to approach it, even some guys that have been around.
"They've been great to deal with, with this particular business of trying to stay focused, being selfish with your time, but still kind of getting away from the rink and relaxing."
Even Cassidy, coaching in his first Stanley Cup Final, has relied on advice from his veterans.
"For me, it means a lot," said Cassidy. "I talked to Zee and Bergy after the scrimmage the other night. Of course, the last two guys to leave, the two most accomplished guys. They're taking this very seriously and I think the team feeds off those guys. Now all of a sudden it's: if these guys are focused, we need to be focused. It's a trickle-down effect which helps us."
Video: Carlo discusses bond in locker room
The willingness of the leadership group to be so inclusive and supportive has helped create an environment that many in Boston's dressing room acknowledge is the best they've ever been around.
"Just the chemistry between the guys," said Carlo. "Everybody loves one another. I think that's a strong word, but overall it's true. This group is just all about playing for each other, hanging out off the ice, doing everything. From top to bottom, whether you're 42 years old, or whatever [Chara] is now, to 20 years old, just the chemistry between this group mixes really well. It correlates onto the ice well."
That it does. And because of that bond, the Bruins will be that much more equipped to handle whatever comes their way as they look to cement their spot in Boston sports history.
"I'm very fortunate to be where I am right now," said McAvoy. "I'm trying to make the most of it. And from a playing standpoint, I'm gonna give it everything in the world that I've got. We've got nothing to save it for."