Bruins’ Charlie McAvoy Suspended 4 Games for Checking Oliver Ekman-Larsson in Head

Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy has been suspended four games for an illegal check to the head of Florida Panthers defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the NHL Department of Player Safety  announced Tuesday.
The incident occurred during Boston’s 3-2 overtime win over the Panthers on Monday night at TD Garden.

McAvoy won’t be eligible to return until a Nov. 11 matchup against the Montreal Canadiens. He’ll miss games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Dallas Stars and New York Islanders.

The Bruins finished Monday’s game with just four defensemen after losing Matt Grzelcyk to an upper-body injury and McAvoy to an ejection for the illegal check to the head.

In the third period, McAvoy collided with Ekman-Larsson in front of Florida’s net with the puck nowhere in sight. Ekman-Larsson’s head appeared to be the principal point of contact, and McAvoy was assessed a match penalty and ejected.

McAvoy had previously only been suspended once in his career. The Boston University product was suspended one game during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs for an illegal check to the head of then-Columbus Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson.

The Bruins selected McAvoy in the first round of the 2016 draft and he has become arguably the team’s best defenseman. Through nine games this season, he has tallied two goals and six assists for eight points.

While the Bruins sit atop the Atlantic Division with an 8-0-1 record, losing McAvoy is a tough blow for Boston, especially if Grzelcyk also misses time with an injury.

As for potential replacements, Mason Lohrei, Ian Mitchell and Parker Wotherspoon could be getting called up. The trio didn’t travel with Boston’s AHL affiliate for a matchup with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Wednesday, per Mark Divver of New England Hockey Journal.

The Bruins will return to action on Thursday against the Maple Leafs.

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