Bruins’ Charlie McAvoy suspended four games for high hit on Oliver Ekman-Larsson


McAvoy will not be eligible to return to the lineup until Nov. 11 against Montreal.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 30: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins commits an illegal check to the head against Oliver Ekman-Larsson #91 of the Florida Panthers during the third period at TD Garden on October 30, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Charlie McAvoy was ejected from Monday’s game against the Panthers in the third period. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Bruins are going to be without their top defenseman until next weekend.

The NHL Department of Player Safety announced on Tuesday evening that Bruins blueliner Charlie McAvoy has been suspended for four games for delivering a high hit against Florida’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Monday night.

As a result, McAvoy will miss Boston’s upcoming games against Toronto (11/2), Detroit (11/4), Dallas (11/6) and the New York Islanders (11/9).

McAvoy was tossed from Monday’s 3-2 OT win over the Panthers at 9:28 in the third period, just 2:28 after he scored Boston’s equalizing goal off of an impressive rush sequence alongside David Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha.

During Boston’s next sustained offensive-zone push, McAvoy crushed Ekman-Larsson after the Panthers defenseman passed the puck — causing the Florida skater to crumple to the ice.

Ekman-Larsson eventually made his way off the ice and did not return, while McAvoy was assessed a match penalty and was ejected from Monday’s game.

This marks the second time that McAvoy has been suspended in his NHL career. The 25-year-old defenseman was handed a one-game suspension during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs for a hit on then-Columbus forward Josh Anderson in the second round.

McAvoy’s four-game absence comes as a tough time for the Bruins, beyond their daunting upcoming schedule against the Maple Leafs and Red Wings.

Boston will already be without another top-four defenseman in Matt Grzelcyk, who is expected to miss “a couple of weeks” due to an upper-body injury sustained in the first period of Monday’s game. 

Following Tuesday’s optional skate, Jim Montgomery acknowledged that Boston likely needs to call up multiple defensemen in order to account for both Grzelcyk and McAvoy’s absences. 

Seasoned AHLers with NHL experience like Ian Mitchell, Jakub Zboril and Parker Wotherspoon would make sense as potential call-up options for Boston ahead of Wednesday’s practice.

But Boston could also take a long look at blue-chip prospect Mason Lohrei, who was one of the team’s final roster cuts before the start of the regular season.

“He’s definitely one of the players being considered,” Montgomery said of Lohrei on Tuesday.

Even though Lohrei was sent down to the AHL ranks in order to log heavier minutes (especially on the power play), those reps might be up for grabs up in the NHL ranks — especially with Grzelcyk slated to be on the mend for the next few weeks.

Lohrei has played in seven total games with the Providence Bruins this season, recording four assists over that stretch.

“Good, I think he had a really good weekend,” Montgomery said of Lohrei’s play down in Providence. “We’re excited about the player because of what he did in camp.”