Bruins Weekly: Forbort’s Welcoming Return, Cassidy & More

As the NHL reaches the first quarter of the 2022-23 season, it was not a quiet last seven days for the Boston Bruins. Three games spread out over seven days as they went 2-1-0, but one of those wins was a record-setting one, while the Black and Gold get healthier as they face a challenging stretch ahead in their schedule.

Boston Bruins Weekly Patrice Bergeron Brad Marchand

In this edition of Bruins Weekly, we look back at the week that was for Boston and an upcoming matchup that includes two of the top teams in the Western Conference and a former coach making his return to the TD Garden.

Forbort’s Value on Penalty Kill Showed During Absence

When Derek Forbort was injured on Nov. 1 in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was not known how serious the injury was. In the days after the game, it was revealed that Forbort needed surgery on the middle finger of his right hand after it was broken. The time frame for his recovery was four-to-six weeks. Exactly 28 days after the injury, he returned to the lineup against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Nov. 29.

Derek Forbort Boston Bruins
Derek Forbort, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Following practice on Nov. 26, coach Jim Montgomery said that Forbort is “getting close’’ to returning to the lineup and it could happen as early as Dec. 3 against the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche at the TD Garden. Instead, he passed his last round of tests and was cleared to play against the Lightning. Getting Forbort back is big in many ways. It gives the Bruins more left-shot depth and also gives them one of their top penalty-killing defensemen back. Why is that important? Consider the following,

  • When Forbort went down with his injury, the Bruins were the best penalty-killing unit in the NHL, allowing just two goals in 37 opportunities.
  • In his absence, Boston has allowed 10 power play goals, which ranks them in the bottom third of the NHL in that time frame of Forbort’s injury.
  • After being ranked first when the injury occurred, they are now ranked second and sliding fast after allowing a power play goal in seven straight games.

There have been many factors for the lack of killing penalties as of late. Boston is taking more penalties, they are not clearing pucks of the defensive zone when they have a chance and they are giving up too many chances in the high-danger areas. Forbort has been good at getting pucks out of the zone, and more importantly, he sacrifices his body to block shots. His return will be felt mostly on the penalty kill. 

Against Tampa Bay, the Bruins went 1-for-2 on the penalty kill in Forbort’s return.

Bruins Finally Solve Hurricanes

Last season, the Carolina Hurricanes were a thorn in the side of the Bruins. In three regular-season games, Boston was outscored by a whopping 16-1 margin over nine periods, which nearly averages an astonishing two goals per period. Things got a little better in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the Bruins took the Metropolitan Division-winning Hurricanes to seven games before falling, 3-2, in Game 7. It was an odd series with the home team winning each game. In the two teams first meeting this season, it looked the like it was going to be deja vu all over again.

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Carolina scored two first-period power play goals on Nov. 25, but the Bruins did what they’ve done numerous times in the first quarter of 2022-23, they responded and found a way to grind out a victory. David Krejci scored two goals in regulation to force overtime before David Pastrnak won the game with 1:14 left in the extra session for a 3-2 victory. It may not mean much at the moment, but besides it being a record win for Boston with their 12 consecutive on-home ice to begin the season, it also erases some doubt out of their minds against a team that had their number last season.

Cassidy Returning to TD Garden

Not many moves were made last offseason, but one of the biggest ones occurred three weeks after the Bruins were eliminated by the Hurricanes in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. After being told he was safe entering the final year of his contract, Bruce Cassidy was fired by general manager (GM) Don Sweeney in a stunning move. After being let go in Boston, Cassidy was quickly scooped up by the Vegas Golden Knights as their next head coach. Cassidy and his new team make their only TD Garden appearance on Dec. 5.

Bruce Cassidy Vegas Golden Knights
Bruce Cassidy, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Vegas had a strong start to the season like the Bruins, but has cooled off as of late. They are 17-6-1 and leading the Western Conference and Pacific Division in points. It will be interesting to see what type of reception Cassidy gets after spending the last six seasons in charge of the Black and Gold and compiling a 245-108-46 regular season record. The two teams won’t have to wait long to see each other again as they will have the second and final meeting of the season six days later on Dec. 11 in Vegas as part of a Bruins West Coast road trip.

Bruins Quotes of the Week

  • Pastrnak on the Bruins setting the NHL record for consecutive home wins to begin a season: “It’s obviously amazing. It’s Original Six, so any record you make as a team is special because it’s such a long history. We’re obviously aware of it, and this group is great. We took over in the third period because we were playing the right way, 5-on-5, in the first two periods. I think we tired them up a little bit, and that’s a hell of a team we beat today.”
  • Montgomery on the Bruins challenging Krejci’s second goal against Carolina after being waved off by the on-ice official: “I thought we should challenge it, but I always wait for Goalie [coach] Bob [Essensa] and also input from our video coaches [Mat Myers and Sean Andrake]. Our video coaches do a great job, they study a lot of that in the offseason of what is goalie interference and what isn’t, and we were very confident that it would be overturned because Foligno started it outside the blue paint and then got pushed into the blue paint.”
  • Montgomery on the hit that Charlie McAvoy had against the Hurricanes in the second period that turned the tide in the game: “I liked the way we started, then we got on our heels there in the last ten minutes of the first and then we didn’t get it back until Charlie had that big hit just inside our blue line. And then I thought the third and fourth lines, [A.J.] Greer put it in after that on the forecheck, Foligno got a hit and then we got a change, Coyle came out, big hit, [Taylor Hall] big hit and got possession and then we got to our offensive game in the offensive zone…it seemed like we were in their end the whole last thirty minutes of the game.”
  • Taylor Hall on scoring two goals in the Bruins’ 3-1 win over Tampa Bay: “It’s nice to see a couple go in. I felt like I had good legs the last few games and had some chances, especially against Carolina. It’s nice to contribute. It’s nice to score at home. It’s been a while since I’ve had a multi-goal game, so those are always fun. Just a good win against a good hockey team.”

Bruins Week Ahead

  • Saturday: vs. Colorado Avalanche, 7 p.m.
  • Monday: vs. Vegas Golden Knights, 7 p.m.

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