BOSTON - The Bruins will have Charlie McAvoy back in the lineup for Game 2 on Sunday afternoon, as they look to open up a 2-0 lead over the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final.
"I can't wait, very excited," said McAvoy, who was suspended for the opening game of the series for an illegal check to the head on Columbus forward Josh Anderson during Game 6 against the Blue Jackets.
"It's the conference finals, looking to make an impact as much as I can and I'm just really thrilled for the opportunity."
McAvoy acknowledged the one silver lining from his banishment was the ability to watch the game unfold from above. With his view from the press box, the blue liner was able to pick up a thing or two about some of the tendencies the Hurricanes employ.
"In some ways, it's beneficial to get up there on [Level Nine of TD Garden] and you kind of have that bird's eye view of the game and see kind of what some of their tendencies are," McAvoy said following Saturday morning's practice at Warrior Ice Arena.
"Try and help the team, what I saw. I can use that to the best of my ability to come out next game and try to be an impactful player."
Video: McAvoy excited to return to lineup
The 21-year-old also had a great view of his fellow blue liners, who performed admirably in his absence. Steven Kampfer stepped into the lineup and played just under 15 minutes, while also notching the game's opening goal for his first career postseason tally.
Connor Clifton also had increased responsibility, playing 18:02 and taking many of his shifts in McAvoy's normal spot alongside Zdeno Chara on the Bruins' first pairing.
"Awesome…Kampfs comes in and scores his first goal in the conference final in a true goal scorer's way. No doubt about it," said McAvoy. "I think I said before the game that I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that whoever is in there for the group of six that they'd get the job done. Happy and proud of those guys for the way they played in Game 1.
"There were pockets that they played well, the Hurricanes, and our D, they played strong and really good sticks and just all around it was a great effort by those guys. I was really happy for them."
Nevertheless, McAvoy was certainly missed during Game 1, with Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy pointing specifically to his ability to cleanly break the puck out of Boston's end using his strong vision and skating.
"Those kind of seam passes, those up-the-middle passes that maybe other guys just don't have the vision or confidence, or both, to make," said Cassidy. "Those quick-strike plays where forwards are getting the pucks in their hands in good spots with a little better chance to attack than maybe a more predictable play where teams can close on him. That's probably the biggest difference."
The Bruins will have all of those skills back in the lineup on Sunday afternoon with a chance to take a commanding lead in this best-of-seven series.
"That's the goal," said McAvoy. "The goal is to win every game, so that doesn't change anything. We had a good practice today, so now it's just a matter of everyone taking care of their bodies and doing what they need to do to feel good to go tomorrow. It's one of those afternoon games, so you show up at the Garden and be ready to go at 3 o'clock."
Video: Cassidy talks Marchand, Rask and Acciari
Boston would like nothing more than to open up a 2-0 series lead on Sunday afternoon. Though the Bruins, who split the first two games in each of the first two series, know that won't be an easy task.
"I don't think you expect to go up 2-0 on any team," said Brad Marchand, who celebrated his 31st birthday on Saturday. "With the teams we're playing, you expect it to go the distance. We're a good team and they're a good team as well. Hopefully we have a good effort."
One way to help assure a positive result is for the Bruins to shore up their play in the second period. Through 14 postseason games, Boston has been outscored, 11-10, in the middle frame, a stark contrast to the 14-6 edge they hold in the first and the 20-12 advantage they boast in the third.
"The fixable parts are bad line changes," said Cassidy, noting the long change in the second period. "We tend to change as a group of three as forwards. Really we should space it out better. Some of that can be through the course of play, you get fatigued or I can shorten our shifts in the second.
"Puck management as well. If you don't put it in a good a spot, your D can never get off, so they're playing fatigued. Our starts have been very good, so the other team will generally pick up their game as well. Those three things feed into it."
Video: Marchand looks at ways to improve for Game 2
Noel Acciari practiced on Saturday morning in a maroon non-contact jersey. He has been ruled out for Game 2, but could be back in the lineup when the series shifts to Carolina next week.
"Doing well. Should be a full practice Monday," said Cassidy. "We'll see what we're doing that day, but he'll be ready whatever the case may be for Monday. Hopefully that allows him to play Tuesday and we'll make our decision then."
On the Right Foot
Zdeno Chara took a Sebatian Aho wrister off the right foot late in the first period of Boston's Game 1 victory. The Bruins captain, who returned for the start of the second and ended with 19:24 of ice time and a plus-2 rating, was a full participant in Saturday's practice.
Video: Chara preparing for Game 2
Brad Marchand picked up two assists in Game 1, giving him 15 points (5 goals, 10 assists) this postseason. It is the third time he has collected at least 15 points in a single playoff year. Ray Bourque (1983, 1988, 1990, and 1991) is the only player in team history to record more such instances.
Patrice Bergeron has five power-play goals this postseason, the most by a Bruins player since Cam Neely established a franchise record of nine during the 1991 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With tallies from Kampfer and Chris Wagner during Game 1, the Bruins have now had 18 different players notch a goal this postseason.
Sunday's Projected Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - David Backes
Marcus Johansson - Charlie Coyle - Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - Connor Clifton
Scratches: Noel Acciari (upper body), Steven Kampfer, Karson Kuhlman, Zane McIntyre, and John Moore.
Video: Rask talks challenges of making playoff run