Bruins McAvoy in protocol, forced to sit Game 4

    Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.

Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy was ruled out for Game 4 of the team’s series against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday after being placed in NHL COVID-19 protocol.

The 24-year-old McAvoy is the team’s top defenseman. He has two assists in three games and is Boston’s leader in playoff ice time with 25:15 on average. The Bruins deployed him against the Hurricanes’ top line with Sebastian Aho in Game 3, a 4-2 win for Boston in which that line was held scoreless.

He’ll be replaced in the Boston lineup with Josh Brown, a 28-year-old defenseman that the Bruins acquired from the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline. His last postseason appearance was with the Florida Panthers in 2020.

After the All-Star Break, the NHL and NHLPA agreed they would stop testing asymptomatic players and that testing will continue only on a limited “for cause” basis in fully vaccinated players. In other words, McAvoy would have had to be symptomatic to be tested.

Under NHL COVID protocols, players will be allowed to leave isolation after five days if they produce a negative test and are asymptomatic. Game 5 is scheduled for Tuesday in Raleigh and a possible Game 6 is scheduled for Thursday in Boston.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy has said that injured defenseman Hampus Lindholm could return for Game 5 back in Raleigh.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, received good news with word that Antti Raanta is back in goal. He left during Game 2 after a collision with Bruins forward David Pastrnak. Rookie rookie goalie Pyotr Kochetkov took over in goal and got that win, but he lost Game 3.

Kochetkov is actually the third-string goalie as Raanta is the backup to Frederik Andersen, who has been rehabbing a lower-body injury.

Carolina leads their first-round series, 2-1.

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