While Matthew Tkachuk may be the poster boy for the physicality of the Florida Panthers first-round playoff series, it has been Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy who has been delivering the hits.
Coming into Tuesday’s action, his 25 hits were tied with former Florida (and Boston) forward Noel Acciari as most in the playoffs thus far. Radko Gudas is tied for 22nd among playoff combatants with 17.
In talking with Boston Hockey Now on Tuesday, McAvoy says his hits — the biggest coming against Tkachuk and Anton Lundell — were not to dole out retribution.
“I kind of just like to play that way. I don’t look at it as a retaliation-type of thing,’’ McAvoy said.
“It’s just how I play at this point. It’s just the playoffs in general. It’s more emotion, it’s more energy…the stakes are high. It makes it more fun, the physicality of the game, the momentum swings, all of that.”
It is not surprising that McAvoy’s style of play has been well received among his teammates.
“He’s shown that he’s taking the steps to be one of the best defensemen in the league,” Brad Marchand told BHN. “I think that’s the one thing that separates him from other skill defensemen: He plays a very physical game and he can be a predator out there. He’s one of those guys where you need to know where he is and can be extremely hard to play against.
“I was even saying to him [after Game 3] that I don’t think guys realize how difficult he is to play against and how strong he is to battle. The way he can throw guys on his back and break pucks out, it’s fun to watch. Those are defensemen that are really hard to play against. Guys that can skate and see the ice really well, but are extremely physical.
“You need to know where he is. He’s the type of defenseman in the playoffs that can lead your group and he’s done a great job thus far.”
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW
The Panthers are down to their last game as another loss will mark the end of their season.
They can talk all they want about “leaving everything on the ice” but those who do not will be noticed. We’ll find a lot about the Panthers tonight in Boston.
- Due to injuries, Zac Dalpe and Casey Fitzgerald each got a chance at the playoffs in Game 4.
- The Panthers will have Aaron Ekblad and Anthony Duclair available for Game 5 tonight although Ryan Lomberg and Sam Bennett missed practice Tuesday. Paul Maurice will not say who be in net — Alex Lyon or Sergei Bobrovsky?
- The Florida Panthers have dug themselves into another deep hole, but this time, their season will come to an end with another loss. A number of teams have rallied from being down 3-1 in series before — the Rangers did it last year — and the Panthers would like to join the club.
- If the Panthers are going to get back in this series, they are going to have to do a much better job of getting in front to help out their goalie— whomever that may be.
- Tkachuk got hit with a $5,000 fine — and Garnet Hathaway responds.
- Not many Boston fans knew who Ryan Lomberg was when this first-round playoff series started, but they certainly know who he is now. Lomberg has become Public Enemy No. 1 in Boston over the past week.
- A ton of video from the past few days is up on the FHN YouTube Channel including Game 4 postgame reaction from Paul Maurice, Radko Gudas, Sasha Barkov and Sergei Bobrovsky. Tuesday’s post-practice video from Anton Lundell and Brandon Montour is also up.
- To see all the videos, you can click the embedded videos below or head directly to the FHN YouTube Channel RIGHT HERE to see everything all in one place. If you hit subscribe (it’s free), you will know when new content comes up.
NHL NEWS/NATIONAL HOCKEY NOW
The New York Islanders kept their season alive by winning Game 5 in Raleigh as Ilya Sorokin holds off a hard push from Sebastian Aho and the Hurricanes.
The series now heads back to UBS Arena for Game 6.
- All signs point toward Patrice Bergeron returning to the Boston Bruins tonight against the Panthers in Game 5.
- The Los Angeles Kings are suddenly on shaky ground against the Oilers.
- Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche has been suspended for Game 5.
- The Vegas Golden Knights are a game away from moving on.
- It looks like the Calgary Flames may be getting a new home as an arena deal is announced at the Saddledome.
- Stuart Skinner gets another shot in net for the Edmonton Oilers.
- Can Alex Nylander stick with the Pittsburgh Penguins?
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
BOSTON BRUINS (ATL1) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 5 (Boston Leads 3-1)
- When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Boston Garden
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Regular Season Series (Tied 2-2): @Boston 5, Florida 3 (Oct. 17); @Florida 5, Boston 2 (Nov. 23); @Boston 7, Florida 3 (Dec. 19); @Florida 4, Boston 3 OT (Jan. 28)
- Last Season: Boston won 2-1
- All-time Regular Season Series: Boston leads 60-38-6, 6 ties
- Playoff History (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 4-1, 1996 (first round)
- First Round Schedule — Game 1: @Boston 3, Florida 1; Game 2: Florida 6, @Boston 3; Game 3: Boston 4, @Florida 2; Game 4: Boston 6, @Florida 2; Game 5: at Boston, Wednesday, 7 (BSF, ESPN); Game 6*: at Florida, Friday; Game 7*: at Boston, Sunday, April 30. (*) — If Necessary.