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McAvoy practices with Bruins, hopes to return against Maple Leafs

Defenseman hasn't played since Dec. 23 because of foot infection

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

BOSTON -- Charlie McAvoy returned to practice with the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, taking part in a full team skate for the first time since his last game, Dec. 23 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

However, the 21-year-old defenseman will miss his seventh straight game Thursday because of a foot infection when the Bruins host the Washington Capitals at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVAS, NESN, NBCSWA, NHL.TV).

McAvoy, who hopes to return Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, revealed details of his injury, which began with a blocked shot against the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 17. He was able to play through pain for four games, with the help of numbing agents. But the skin, which had split open upon impact with the puck, began to show signs of infection over the Christmas break. McAvoy cut short his holiday to return to Boston to be treated by team doctors.

"It actually exploded the skin inside the skate," McAvoy said. "Got stitches in there. Played through it to Christmas, just tried to make it work til then, and then we were excited for those three days to really just let it heal, and, unfortunately, on the 24th, 25th, started to notice signs of infection.

"Ultimately it could have been way worse, but I'm fortunate to have the doctors be really sharp on that and have our trainers care for it as good as they have, and to ultimately avoid a bigger scare."

He finished his course of antibiotics recently, which allowed his return to the ice.

"The cut was pretty big," he said. "You didn't want to have it in a skate, a place that carries around so much bacteria."

With the Bruins (25-14-4) on a five-game winning streak, McAvoy has not felt pressure to return early from the injury. But that doesn't mean he doesn't want to be back on the ice. He has already missed 26 games this season, the first 20 with a concussion, before returning for 10 games and then being sidelined again. He also missed 19 in his rookie season in 2017-2018 because of heart surgery and injury.

"In my own mind, I want to play," he said. "It's a bonus how good everyone's playing. This team's starting to pick up some heat. Everyone's playing for each other right now. It's been fun to watch. Obviously, there's an element, a little bit of sadness. You miss the guys. Unfortunate to be out."

McAvoy also addressed a recent story in the Boston Globe that he had been late earlier this season to a special-teams meeting and for a team bus, resulting in a talking-to from the team's leadership group, specifically forward Brad Marchand.

"A learning experience," McAvoy said. "There was definitely a learning opportunity. I'm trying to be very receptive of that, and I think I am. It really wasn't a big thing that was going on. I think everyone figured that out after people were surprised to even hear about such a thing. But we had a conversation amongst the young and the veterans. We're very fortunate to have them. … If I can learn their habits and learn thing like that at a young age, I'll be so much better off for it."

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