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McAvoy Takes Next Step in Recovery

Blue liner skates with group during optional pregame skate

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BOSTON - Charlie McAvoy took another critical step in his recovery on Thursday, joining his teammates for an optional morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. The rookie defenseman had been skating by himself for the last three days.

According to coach Bruce Cassidy, McAvoy has been cleared for full practice participation and has not ruled out a Saturday return for the blue liner, who underwent a heart ablation procedure last week.

"He's getting closer," said Cassidy. "Let's get a good practice in [on Friday] and re-evalaute…he'll skate and worry more about his conditioning and try to get that back up to speed. He was off the ice for a full week."

McAvoy admitted it was the most excited he has been to practice in quite some time.

"To get back out there and pass the puck with the guys and engage in some high-paced drills - it was good, a good day," said McAvoy. "Obviously a big step in the process to get back out there and be able to exert myself and monitor where I'm at. It was a good day, getting the heart rate up. I feel good."

Video: McAvoy reacts to being cleared to practice

The 20-year-old has missed the last three games, and while Cassidy did not shut down the possibility of a return on Saturday, McAvoy is making sure not to rush back into the lineup.

"Those are kind of guesses, maybe this day, maybe that day," said McAvoy. "Really it's gonna be when my body is ready to go and when the trainers feel like I'm ready to go. I'd rather come back 100 percent than come back less than that. I want to be able to play good hockey and put our team in a good spot when I come back.

"Couple things to think about there, but today was a good step, good couple steps we've had now. This is probably the biggest one so far is getting back on the ice and getting conditioning back and feeling good overall."

Bouncing Back

Boston's 18-game points streak came to end on Tuesday against Anaheim, meaning they'll be attempting something on Thursday night that they haven't' had to in over six weeks - avoid back-to-back losses.

"We're looking to get back in the win column again tonight against a very good team in St. Louis," said Jake DeBrusk. "It's not necessarily a focus of ours [to avoid a downturn], it's a focus to get back in the win column and obviously clean up some things that had us lose that game.

"The starts are big, we've just go to stick with our game plan and play a stingy game."

Video: Cehlarik up, McAvoy cleared

Acciari, Bjork Still Out

Cassidy said Noel Acciari (lower-body) and Anders Bjork (upper-body) would remain out of the lineup on Thursday against St. Louis. Bjork is expected to be sidelined through at least the weekend.

For Acciari, who has missed the last two games, the issue is one of pain tolerance, according to Cassidy.

"Trust me, he can take a lot of pain," said Cassidy. "He's just trying to get to a good spot with it…until he does, we don't want to put him out there. He played through it through the Islanders game, he had a tough time with it. We had to shut him down for a stretch of time.

"We want to try to get him to be as healthy as can be with the injuries. Certainly will have to play through aspects of it."

Prior to sitting out, Acciari was struggling with his skating game, which is critical to a player who has become one of the most feared body-checkers in the National Hockey League.

"A lot," Cassidy said of how much the injury hampered Acciari's physicality. "He gets there and finishes hard, so without losing a bit of that ability, that's a big part of his game that he lost.

"He was good on the walls, good in front of the net. When he was static, he was still good. But to be able to close and finish and eliminate, that's where it's affected him."

Thursday's Projected Lineup

Danton Heinen - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Ryan Spooner
Peter Cehlarik - Riley Nash - David Backes
Tim Schaller - Sean Kuraly - Frank Vatrano

Zdeno Chara - Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Matt Grzelcyk - Kevan Miller

Tuukka Rask
Anton Khudobin

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