By: Danielle DuBois | Follow me on Twitter @DanielleDuBois
The Boston Bruins defense is remarkable this season. With almost the same roster as last season’s defense, what caused this sudden turnaround? We will be breaking down a player on the Bruins’ defense each week and discussing why it works. This week we will take a look into Derek Forbort.
Derek Forbort was drafted in the 2010 NHL entry draft by the Los Angeles Kings. After playing three seasons in the AHL, Forbort was called up to play on the Kings. Within his time in L.A., Forbort played 268 games scoring six goals and 57 assists. After playing with the Kings for five seasons, Forbort was traded to the Calgary Flames. When the 2019-2020 season wrapped up, Forbort was a free agent and was signed by the Winnipeg Jets. His time at the Jets ended after only one season. The Bruins decided to sign the then 28-year-old to a three-year contract to add depth to their defense.
While his time on the Bruins has been short, he has made quite an entrance. In his first regular season with the Bruins, Forbort had 100 blocked shots and 133 hits. His talent continued into the playoffs as he led the Bruins with 18 blocked shots. Forbort came onto the team with fire and passion, fitting into the system remarkably.
The high amount of blocked shots showed a lot of potential for the defender; however, he had a significant issue with turning the puck over. In his second season with the Bruins, he has become better with puck handling and has looked ten times better than he did last season. Not to mention that he became a vital part of the Bruins’ penalty kill.
Last season Bruce Cassidy paired Forbort and Brandon Carlo together for the majority of games. When Jim Montgomery came in this season, he kept the pair together but quickly switched it to be Forbort and Connor Clifton. This pair is intense and physical, which you want from a defensive line. The pair won’t draw a lot of offensive talent, but the pairing is key to the Bruins’ success.
While Carlo and Forbort aren’t paired together anymore, we still see them together on most penalty kills. While the Clifton and Forbort pairing is excellent at full strength, the Carlo and Forbort pairing makes the most sense for penalty kills. Carlo and Forbort are extremely good at hits, blocking shots, and clearing the zone, three skills needed for a successful penalty kill. Clearly, the penalty kill pairings have been beneficial as the Bruins currently lead the league with the best penalty kill percentage at 85.1%.
We saw Forbort come up big in the playoffs last season. In game three against the Carolina Hurricanes, Forbort blocked nine shots. Those nine shots tied the playoff record for the first time since 2013. Thanks to Forbort standing on his head, the Hurricanes went 0-for-5 on the power play. With Forbort coming alive in big moments like this one, it shows how valuable he is for this team’s success.
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