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  • Derek Forbort’s recovery lands him an unlikely playoff spot

    Tim Rosenthal May 8, 2024

    SUNRISE, Fla. — Before going under the knife, Derek Forbort became a prime target of scrutiny from some of the fanbase.

    Working through a nagging lower-body injury, Forbort’s defensive production took a nosedive during his third season in Boston. Upon returning from his first absence out of the lineup, Forbort saw himself on the ice for multiple goals against at 5v5 and the penalty kill.

    His reliability in front of the net and stout shorthanded production became sore spots as the Bruins struggled with their net-front coverage and game-management mishaps coming out of the All-Star Break. On March 8, the struggling Forbort opted for surgery to repair his lower-body ailment.

    At the time, the Bruins expected Forbort to miss the rest of the 2023-24 season. The doctors who performed the surgery put a more distant timeline following Forbort’s operation.

    But Forbort healed quickly enough to resume on-ice activity. He worked with the team’s physical therapists to eventually become a regular participant at practice. Then, Forbort took another unlikely step toward potentially returning on Boston’s back end for the playoffs after a conditioning stint in Providence.

    “Yeah, the Docs think maybe they just kind of put a big timeline on it just because they’re cautious with it,” Forbort said. “But we got great PTS here. It’s some kind of unconventional swimming stuff and just kind of did a bunch of stuff like that, and it really helped kind of get me back sooner.”

    Forbort worked his way into a potential unlikely postseason contributor.

    His approach to recovery resonated within Boston’s tight-knit locker room. After eight weeks of resting and rehabbing, Forbort returned to the lineup.

    “Tremendous work ethic,” head coach Jim Montgomery said of Forbort. “I mean, he wanted to come back and play you know, dealt with a lot of injuries this year. And just the fact that he’s a great locker room guy, he’s got a great sense of humor, he cares about his teammates. It’s a good add in the locker room.”

    Forbort doesn’t possess any flashy traits. But he makes up for that with a willingness to block shots and play physically along the walls and net-front area.

    The 32-year-old blue-liner showcased his strengths after logging 18:03 time on ice during Boston’s 5-1 victory in Game 1. In another physical tilt between the two Atlantic Division foes, Forbort landed six hits and blocked two shots while also helping Boston’s stingy penalty kill to stave off all three Florida power play attempts.

    Some important decisions on the back end await once Andrew Peeke returns to the lineup. Without Forbort, the former Columbus Blue Jacket settled into his role on Boston’s third pair upon his trade deadline arrival.

    Given Mason Lohrei’s emergence into the top four, Forbort will likely settle into some sort of rotation involving Peeke, Parker Wotherspoon and Kevin Shattenkirk on the bottom pairing.

    Situations and health may dictate Forbort’s path going forward. But his return to the lineup — under more challenging circumstances compared to the regular season — provided another confidence boost for a Bruins squad that’s still riding high from their last two emotional victories.

    “The way that he came in and handled himself throughout that game, mentally and physically, was very impressive,” defenseman Brandon Carlo said.

    “Coming back into a regular-season game when you’ve missed that much time is hard. Coming back into the playoffs is a whole different animal. I’m so proud of the way that he handled himself [in Game 1]. I thought he played fantastic and did his job very well. He’s a great addition to have back for certain aspects of the game, and I have a lot of respect for him and his game.” 

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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