The Boston Bruins are set to get a major boost to the defense ahead of Thursday’s clash with the Calgary Flames. Star defender Charlie McAvoy, who has yet to make an appearance this season, is set to return from injury on Thursday night and make his 2022-23 debut. The Bruins teased McAvoy’s return with a gif on Twitter that sent the fanbase into a frenzy before reporters broke the news of McAvoy’s return shortly after.

McAvoy underwent offseason surgery following Boston’s Stanley Cup Playoffs series loss against the Carolina Hurricanes. The procedure addressed a shoulder injury he had sustained over the course of the season.

On Wednesday, the Bruins put defenseman Mike Reilly on waivers, clearing a spot for McAvoy to return to the fold on Thursday.

McAvoy had a career year in 2021-22 for the Bruins, featuring in 78 games and recording 56 points, including 10 goals and 46 assists. McAvoy was more active in the offensive zone, too. He registered a career-high 166 shots on goal, while also putting in work defensively, with 130 blocked shots and 155 hits. McAvoy finished fourth in James Norris Trophy voting and was a first-time All-Star after his prolific campaign.

Needless to say, getting the 24-year-old back will be a massive boost for the already-surging Bruins team. At 11-2, the Bruins hold a five-point lead over the Red Wings in the Atlantic Division and also pace the Eastern Conference with 22 points. Their +23 goal differential is the best in hockey and could stand to improve now that Charlie McAvoy is set to return to action.

Now that Brad Marchand and McAvoy are back from their offseason surgeries, the Bruins are running at near full strength and should continue their scalding hot run to start the year.