Derek Forbort’s presence felt as stingy Bruins continue to stack up points

Bruins

“He’s a guy that works hard every day as well and a guy that comes up big at big times.”

Derek Forbort logged over five minutes of shorthanded TOI on Saturday against the Kings. Jeff Chiu/AP Photo

Derek Forbort will take the points, no doubt.

The 6-foot-4, 216-pound defenseman isn’t necessarily known for his prowess in the offensive zone. On a roster already inundated with puck-moving D-men, Forbort isn’t the first man up when it comes to orchestrating a breakout or walking the offensive blue line.

Saturday’s two-assist showing against the Kings was a welcome result for Forbort, who has notched 93 total points over 465 total games in the NHL ranks.

But the 31-year-old skater would much prefer points accrued in the standings, rather than individual stat lines.

“I mean I don’t really care about points,” Forbort said postgame. “But anytime you get them, it’s nice.”

For Forbort, a good day at the office usually revolves around a volley of pucks clanging off his pads — and opposing power-play personnel left slamming their sticks in frustration.

Saturday night in Los Angeles, Forbort was as advertised on a Bruins roster that’s already making life miserable for opponents thanks to their stingy D-zone play.

Along with his two-point night, Forbort left his fingerprints all over Boston’s 4-2 win over the Kings — logging 22:20 of ice time, including a team-high 5:13 of shorthanded reps, while also doling out five hits and recording four blocks.

Boston’s penalty kill negated five of the six Kings power plays generated on Saturday, with their lone blemish coming with 1:10 left in the game and a win all but secured.

While the Bruins remain a work in progress when it comes to cultivating chemistry and consistency on their reworked forward corps, Boston’s stout defense and stellar special teams have kept them off the ropes and out to a 4-0-0 start to the new season.

Forbort, who ranks 10th in the NHL in shorthanded TOI per game (4:19) has helped anchor a PK unit alongside Brandon Carlo (4:27 shorthanded TOI per game) that is operating at 94.7% success rate through four games.

Boston could have spent most of Saturday’s contest chasing the game out of the gate, with L.A. granted an early 5-on-3 opportunity after both Charlie Coyle and Johnny Beecher were banished to the sin bin less than four minutes into the contest.

Ultimately, Forbort, Carlo, and the rest of Boston’s PK unit weathered the storm — with David Pastrnak and Boston’s power play eventually landing a punch down the other end of the ice with a tally on the man advantage at 13:10 in the opening frame.

“Our structure was phenomenal and that’s something that we use as a momentum piece rolling forward, is killing off two big penalties and a 5-on-3 as well,” Jeremy Swayman said postgame. “So, that’s something that as a goalie you definitely like to use as a momentum moving forward, not let in a goal and then finish up the period strong.”

It was a slow ramp-up to the season for Forbort, who played sparingly during preseason action due to a nagging injury. 

But the hard-nosed defenseman has been as advertised as a stay-at-home pillar on Boston’s third pairing once the regular season commenced. Forbort’s strengths usually lie in his contributions on the penalty kill, but he’s been stellar at 5v5 action as well.

Forbort currently has the lowest offensive-zone faceoff percentage of all Bruins defensemen at 25.81 during 5v5 play. But despite opening multiple shifts outside of the O-zone, the Bruins still hold a 4-1 edge in goals scored during his 54:16 of 5v5 ice time.

“He tweaked his groin early in camp and now you’re starting to see a player that’s the player that we saw last year,” coach Jim Montgomery said of Forbort. “He’s really assertive defensively, blocking shots, getting pucks out on the penalty kill and he’s getting more assertive offensively again, too. He’s sliding, he’s getting more comfortable. He’s getting in a good rhythm offensively.”

He won’t be asked to lead Boston’s D corps, nor will the Bruins’ hopes of consistent 5v5 offense fall on his shoulders.

But Forbort still serves as a key cog on a Bruins team building an identity as a stout defensive club that doesn’t give an inch in their own end.

The Kings were just the latest team to learn that the hard way.

“Oh, man. He loves L.A. obviously,” Swayman said of Forbort, who played for the Kings from 2015-20. “So, it’s awesome for him. I mean, he’s a guy that works hard every day as well and a guy that comes up big at big times. He’s not only getting some points but he’s obviously a shutdown D man in front of me.”


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