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Locker Room Raw: Charlie McAvoy’s Anguish Shows Bruins’ Burning Desire



As most of the Boston Bruins had already undressed and hit the showers, Jake DeBrusk sat motionless at his locker stall. Still fully dressed in his uniform with skates on, the 22-year-old forward buried his face in his hands, the agony of defeat etched across every inch. When DeBrusk finally emerged, his youthful face was as red and raw as the tears streaking down from many of his equally distraught teammates.

These were the Bruins mere moments after a crushing 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, their dream of claiming Boston’s seventh NHL championship evaporating in heartbreaking fashion on home ice. Yet rather than representing any sort of weakness, those unabashed tears from the youngest Bruins reflected the exact kind of burning competitive desire this franchise should want beating at the heart of its next generation of stars.

When you care that much, losing hurts that badly. And after their emotional letdown on the biggest stage, the raw feelings of anguish radiating from Boston’s top young talents like DeBrusk and 22-year-old defenseman Charlie McAvoy confirmed this group’s searing hunger to reach the pinnacle.

McAvoy Could Barely Speak After Game 7 Heartbreak

Of all the Bruins youngsters, it was McAvoy who may have taken the Game 7 loss hardest. The former 14th overall pick has rapidly ascended to Boston’s No. 1 defenseman, playing a whopping 26:28 of ice time while anchoring the back end in the Cup Final defeat. Yet even as he blossomed into one of hockey’s premier blue-liners, McAvoy’s crestfallen reaction to falling just short of a championship clearly cut the deepest.

“This one hurts really badly,” McAvoy said, pausing between words as his voice quivered with emotion. “I don’t know…I’m at a loss for words.”

Anyone watching McAvoy’s brief interview could see the anguish welling behind his eyes, threatening to reduce him to tears at any moment. Every pained syllable took monumental effort as he attempted to encapsulate the devastation of a once-promising season climaxing in abject disappointment. 

“We made it all this way…One side is elation, the other side is just nothing,” he added in a barely audible mumble. “It’s going to take a while to get over this.”

Lost for words, McAvoy spoke volumes about this Bruins group’s intangible tenacity and unwavering desire through his sheer emotional transparency. Even in defeat, his raw vulnerability humanized the 22-year-old – painting him not as an impervious pro athlete, but as a supremely passionate competitor still maturing and learning how to cope with the highest of highs and lowest of lows.

DeBrusk, McAvoy Represent Bruins’ Emotional Core

However uncomfortable it may have looked to outside observers, McAvoy’s dejection represented something deeply inspiring about this current Bruins team. Along with DeBrusk and others like Brandon Carlo, Danton Heinen, and Connor Clifton, McAvoy is the emotional anchor stitching together Boston’s emerging young nucleus.

And in the biggest game of their lives, their shattered reactions to narrowly missing out on hockey’s ultimate prize showed they not only have the skill and upside to potentially build a dynasty – but they clearly care enough to want that level of success with every fiber of their beings.

“We all love each other and we’re going to lean on each other to get through this,” McAvoy said, clearly hurting from the emotional investment he and his teammates poured into this playoff run over the past two months. “It’s tough, we had all the makings of a special group and we felt so special in here. It was really special to be a part of something like this and then to not win, I feel really incomplete.”

Like McAvoy, DeBrusk seemed almost at a loss in the moments after the defeat, struggling to reconcile how his dream season could culminate in such brutal heartbreak. Yet even as the tears streamed down his face, his desolation spoke to the blazing fire burning within this core of early-20-somethings, and how much they’ll sacrifice to keep avoiding Game 7 anguish in the future.

Bruins’ Youth Showed Desire to Match Immense Talent

Throughout this postseason, DeBrusk, McAvoy, and their fellow young contributors showed a national audience exactly why they’ve garnered so much hype as Boston’s grassroots foundation for years to come.

In McAvoy, the Bruins have a two-way dynamo and surefire No. 1 defenseman who logged over 25 minutes per night and played like a decade-long vet in anchoring the blue line all playoffs. DeBrusk’s 24 points ranked fourth on the team, showing his elite scoring ability is no fluke.

But beyond their immense skills and statistical impacts, these players repeatedly flashed an indomitable competitive drive representative of Boston’s longstanding working-class identity and ethos. It’s that intangible characteristic that truly elevates them as pillars to build around.

McAvoy’s Defensive Tour-de-Force in Game 6

Look no further than McAvoy’s inspiring tour-de-force performance in Game 6, playing a scarcely believable 34:43 – the most by any player in a Stanley Cup Final game since 1995. At times, you could forgive the young stud if he showed any physical or mental lapses in an epic quadruple-overtime marathon.  

Yet McAvoy remained stout defensively while adding two assists, a thunderous hit on David Perron, and a blistering shot off the crossbar. Even after relentlessly charging up and down the ice like a man possessed for nearly five full periods, the 6’1″ rearguard delivered one of the signature performances cementing his status as an elite franchise pillar.

DeBrusk’s Nose for the Net

Then there’s DeBrusk, who led all players with 16 shots in the championship series and finished tied for second in goals. The feisty winger is a master at unleashing his lightning-quick release, getting pucks through from all angles with a perpetual attack mentality.

But what truly epitomizes DeBrusk’s value is not only his goalscoring prowess, but the sheer relentlessness of his play. For a 5’9″ shooter playing on the edge between pesky and undisciplined, his combination of skill and unwavering tenacity is like viewing Cam Neely or Brad Marchand’s younger mirror image.   

Those qualities shone brightest when the Bruins’ backs were against the wall. After a dreadful 7-2 Game 3 loss knotted the series, DeBrusk potted one in each of the following two contests to stem the tide and regain momentum. When trailing in elimination games on the road, DeBrusk rose to the occasion with a pair of game-tying goals in Games 5 and 6 to extend Boston’s quest.

It’s no coincidence a player boasting his combination of prodigious talent and unrelenting competitive fire is the one fans will remember as the face of agony after coming up just short of the ultimate prize. The anguish of defeat is only outweighed by his resolute determination to never experience that misery again.

Bruins’ Future in Good Hands With Hungry Young Core

Granted, there’s no telling what the future holds in regards to how long general manager Don Sweeney can keep this current nucleus intact. Veterans like Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are all aging and closer to the end of their legendary careers than the beginning.

But with foundational pieces like McAvoy, DeBrusk, Carlo, and a wave of other youngsters like Jack Studnicka and Urho Vaakanainen coming through the prospect pipeline, there’s reason for optimism. Combined with blossoming stars like David Pastrnak and emerging supplementary contributors like Marcus Johansson and Danton Heinen, the future remains bright in Boston.

Most importantly, this bitterly tough ending showed that despite their inexperience, this generation of Bruins boasts the essential internal competitive fire to channel their anguish and continue pushing toward hockey’s promised land.

As painful as Game 7’s flameout may have been, knowing the likes of DeBrusk and McAvoy now have an up-close understanding of what heartbreak on that grand stage feels like should drive them even harder to finally get over that hump.  

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