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McAvoy: 'I Respect the Process. I Respect Their Decision'

Blue liner reacts to one-game suspension for illegal check to the head

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BOSTON - Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy met with the media on Wednesday afternoon to address his one-game suspension for an illegal check to the head.

McAvoy, who will sit out Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final on Thursday night, was assessed a minor penalty during the second period of the Bruins win in Game 6 of the second round after delivering a heavy hit on Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson in front of the Columbus bench.

The 21-year-old blue liner was banned by the NHL's Department of Player Safety following a hearing late Tuesday afternoon.

"I respect the process. I respect their decision. I'm disappointed that I won't be playing in Game 1, but that being said, I have complete faith in this team to go out and play our game in Game 1," said McAvoy, who had no prior disciplinary issues in his 117-game NHL career.

"I said my piece in accordance with the rules and I think that we put forth a pretty good defense, really slowing it down and watching it and kind of how his body changed there at the last second, opening up. It was tough. I was just trying to make a hockey play. It was just a little bit unfortunate, really…all things together I'm not a very good lawyer I guess."

Video: McAvoy talks one game suspension

Anderson, who retreated to the dressing room for the final 20 seconds of the second period, was not injured on the play and returned for the third. In the handshake line following Boston's victory, McAvoy and Anderson exchanged pleasantries during what appeared to be a very civil conversation.

"That is between me and the individual, but we had a really good battle all series," said McAvoy. "I have a lot of respect for him. He plays the game very hard. He's not someone who is easy to play against at all. I didn't see what I was doing as trying to be dirty, trying to even any sort of score.

"It was just time and place and it happened. It was unfortunate and I'm dealing with it. We're on to Carolina now and for me personally, I'm on to doing everything I can to be ready to go."

When McAvoy returns for Game 2, he is not planning on changing his style of play to be any less physical. In fact, he hopes that with a few extra days off he'll come back with some added jump, both mentally and physically.

"I can't change the kind of player I am. I don't think I'm a dirty player by any means," said McAvoy, who was one of Boston's best players during the second round. "I'm already looking forward to using this little bit of extra time to perhaps put myself in the best position to be ready to go for Game 2.

"It's an opportunity for me to rest some bumps and bruises and a chance to mentally reset and get ready. Once Game 2 comes around, I'm going to do whatever it takes to help the team."

Video: Cassidy discusses lineup ahead of Game 1 of ECF

In the mean time, the Bruins will take on the same approach that has served them so well throughout the season. With so many bodies in and out of the lineup because of injury over the course of the year, Boston is well versed in taking on the "Next Man Up" mentality.

"Especially this season, we had a number of those situations where we had key players out of the lineup for some time," said Zdeno Chara, McAvoy's regular defense partner. "We handled it well. It's a similar situation. We just have to respect that the league made a decision on Charlie and somebody else is going to play bigger minutes and increase the role."

That someone is likely to be either Steven Kampfer or John Moore. During Wednesday's practice at Warrior Ice Arena, it appeared that Kampfer had the edge, as he participated in normal rushes alongside Matt Grzelcyk on Boston's third pairing.

"Next man up, go and do your job and be ready for it," said Kampfer, who has suited up for one game this postseason (Game 3 against Toronto). "It's a big game and you just want to put your best foot forward…a lot of it is mental preparation. Going into it, [Carolina's] a fast team, they're gonna come hard.

"You've got to be ready for it…get a hit your first shift or move your feet and make a play. That's pretty much all you're looking for."

Moore has not played since Game 7 of the first round against the Maple Leafs as he deals with an upper-body injury. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney indicated on Tuesday that Moore may not be 100 percent, but is available to play if needed.

"It's between [Kampfer] and John Moore, we have to make that decision," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of which defenseman would replace McAvoy. "I'll let you know [Thursday morning]. If Kampfer goes in it's three righties, three lefties.

"I think you're gonna see some different combinations tomorrow depending on the circumstance."

Video: Kampfer talks potential return to lineup

One of those combinations could be Chara and Connor Clifton, a pairing that was featured during much of Wednesday's practice.

"[Chara's] a really vocal guy, so I think that will help me, especially when the Garden gets buzzing tomorrow night," said Clifton, who had his first two postseason assists during the Columbus series.

Regardless of who is in the lineup or which duos Cassidy deploys, Chara noted that the defense corps must stick to the approach that has worked so well to this point.

"We just play into our systems," said the B's captain. "No matter who is in our out of the lineup, just keep playing the way we've been playing. If there are adjustments that need to be made, we'll adjust."

 

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