Derek Forbort will undoubtedly take the points.
The 6-foot-1, 216-pound defenseman isn’t necessarily known for his prowess in the offensive zone. On a roster already awash with puck-moving D-men, Forbort isn’t the first man when it comes to orchestrating a breakaway or running the offensive blue line.
Saturday’s two assists against the Kings were a welcome result for Forbort, who has totaled 93 points in 465 games in the NHL standings.
But the 31-year-old skater would much rather earn points in the rankings than individual statistics.
“I mean, I don’t really care about the points,” Forbort said after the game. “But every time you get them, it’s fun.”
For Forbort, a good day at the office usually revolves around a volley of pucks clattering against his pads – and the opposing power-play staff are left banging their sticks in frustration.
Saturday night in Los Angeles, Forbort was as advertised on a Bruins roster that is already making life miserable for opponents thanks to its stingy D-zone play.
Along with his two-point night, Forbort left his fingerprints on Boston’s 4-2 win over the Kings – logging 22:20 of ice time, including a team-high 5:13 of short reps, while also dishing out five hits and recording four blocks .
Boston’s penalty nullified five of the Kings’ six power plays generated Saturday, with their only blemish coming with 1:10 left in the game and all but securing a victory.
While the Bruins are still a work in progress when it comes to cultivating chemistry and consistency in their reworked forward corps, Boston’s stout defense and stellar special teams have kept them off the ropes and off to a 4-0-0 start to the new season booked.
Forbort, who ranks 10th in the NHL in short TOI per game (4:19), has helped anchor a PK unit alongside Brandon Carlo (4:27 shorthanded TOI per game) that has posted a success rate of 94.7% have.
Boston could have chased the game out of the gate for most of Saturday’s game, with LA getting an early 5-on-3 opportunity after both Charlie Coyle and Johnny Beecher were relegated to the sin bin less than four minutes into the game.
Ultimately, Forbort, Carlo and the rest of Boston’s PK unit weathered the storm — with David Pastrnak and Boston’s power play finally landing a punch on the other side of the ice with a man-advantage count at 1:10 p.m. the opening frame.
“Our structure was phenomenal and that’s something we use as a momentum piece rolling forward, killing two big penalties and also a 5-on-3,” Jeremy Swayman said after the game. “So that’s something that as a goalkeeper you definitely like to use as momentum to move forward, not let a goal in and then finish the period strong.”
It’s been a slow start to the season for Forbort, who played sparingly during the preseason due to a nagging injury.
But the hard-hitting defenseman was similarly advertised as a stay-at-home mainstay in Boston’s third pairing once the regular season started. Forbort’s strengths mostly lie in his contributions on the penalty kill, but he was also excellent in 5v5 action.
Forbort currently has the lowest offensive zone faceoff percentage of any Bruins defenseman at 25.81 during 5v5 play. But despite opening multiple shifts outside the O-zone, the Bruins still hold a 4-1 edge in goals scored during his 54:16 of 5v5 ice time.
“He twisted his groin early in camp and now you’re starting to see a player who is the player we saw last year,” coach Jim Montgomery said of Forbort. “He is very assertive defensively, blocks shots, takes out pucks on the penalty kill and is also becoming more assertive offensively. It slides, it becomes more and more comfortable. He’s getting into a good rhythm offensively.”
He won’t be asked to lead Boston’s D-corps, nor will the Bruins’ hopes for a consistent 5v5 offense fall on his shoulders.
But Forbort still serves as an important cog in a Bruins team that is building an identity as a stout defensive club that doesn’t give an inch to its own goal.
The Kings were just the latest team to learn that the hard way.
“Oh man. He obviously loves LA,” Swayman said of Forbort, who played for the Kings from 2015 to 2020. “So it’s great for him. I mean, he’s a guy who works hard every day and a guy who comes out big in big moments. Not only does he get some points, but he is clearly a shutdown D-man for me.
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