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McAvoy hopeful of return to Bruins before playoffs

Defenseman, out with sprained MCL, aims to be back 'as fast as possible'

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- Charlie McAvoy still doesn't know exactly how he sustained a sprained left MCL on Saturday, but the Boston Bruins defenseman is certain about when wants to return to the lineup.

"My goal is to get back as fast as I can, as fast as possible," McAvoy said Thursday. "That's my goal. But that being said, I'm not putting myself at risk to come back early to potentially hurt it again, hurt the knee or the team if that's the scenario. But we're working hard here, and we have a good game plan as to the necessary steps. So I'm confident that I'll be back.

"My ultimate goal would be back for regular-season games to give myself an opportunity to kind of get up to pace and find my game a bit before the playoffs. But I mean, whatever happens, there'll be a reason behind it, and I'll stay positive."

McAvoy fell to the ice following a collision along the boards 37 seconds into what became a 2-1 overtime win against the Montreal Canadiens. He was attended to by a trainer and left the ice under his own power. The sprain was diagnosed Tuesday, and the prognosis was for him to be re-evaluated in four weeks.

Video: The guys discuss Charlie McAvoy's injury

"Just one of those crazy things," the 20-year-old said. "I've never had any knee problems, lower-body things like that. I've played thousands of hockey games at whatever level, nothing like that. Just kind of felt a little confused as to what happened. Guess I hit a rut or my leg was a little relaxed, whatever it may be. Just accept it now and now we're on to rehab."

McAvoy will miss his second game when the Bruins host the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden on Thursday (7. p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, NESN, NBCSP+, NHL.TV). He is second on the Bruins (to defense partner Zdeno Chara) and leads NHL rookies in average ice time (22:06). With 32 points (seven goals, 25 assists), McAvoy is tied with Will Butcher of the New Jersey Devils for the lead among NHL rookie defensemen.

The Bruins, 17-5-0 in their past 22 games, are six points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division with three games in hand, and five ahead of the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs with four games in hand.

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