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Bruins Notebook

Bruins’ Derek Forbort spends his time in the line of fire

Bruins defenseman Derek Forebort is known for getting in the way of opponents' shots, even jumping into the empty net to block the puck.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

To take a puck off the stick, turn around, take another puck off the foot, then turn back around and take another puck off the exact same foot — so hard that it knocks you to the ice and leaves you hobbling back to your feet just to finish a penalty kill shift — you have to be wired differently.

That wiring started for Derek Forbort as a young player in Duluth, Minn.

“Growing up in Duluth, we had a bantam coach who was kind of a nut job,” Forbort recalled. “And I remember him shooting real pucks at us in practice, working on fronting shots. So from there, it just kind of became kind of second nature, I guess.”


He remembered watching Matt Greene with the Los Angeles Kings — and later played alongside of him — and absorbing the way he embraced giving up his body for the team.

“He was just an animal, the way he played and blocked shots,” Forbort said. “He was kind of someone I tried to model my game after.”

Forbort throws himself in the line of fire for a living. But despite the damage he takes on a nightly basis, he brushes it off as part of the job. He carved out an old identity as a defensive-minded player but it flourished in the season he spent under Mike Stothers with the AHL Manchester Monarchs and gave him the idea that he could make a career out of it.

“I’ve always kind of had a knack for the defensive side of the puck,” Forbort said. “My second year in the minors when I got Mike Stothers as a coach, when I really kind of kind of grew into my identity and who I needed to be as a player to play in the NHL.


The career playoff-high nine shots that Forbort blocked Friday in the Bruins’ Game 3 win over Carolina showed how valuable he is to the Bruins.

Most of the time the reward for that kind of night is the ice pack waiting for you in the dressing room. But to the Bruins, Forbort’s role is essential.

“You have to have a certain amount of fearlessness to play that role, trust me,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “You have padding, obviously, but the puck hurts when it hits you in certain spots. Not every time but it hurts. I think guys just learn to shake it off and know that that’s an asset they can bring that maybe other guys can’t.”

It’s a role that players like Brandon Carlo, Chris Wagner, Kevan Miller have played in the past.

“Are they wired differently? I think so,” Cassidy said. “And yet they enjoy it. They love eating pucks.”

Climbing out of the hole

Having to climb out of a 2-0 hole isn’t the situation the Bruins wanted, but Cassidy said they didn’t fool themselves into believing they would have an easy road in the playoffs.

“A cakewalk would be awesome,” Cassidy said. “I think that’s a pipe dream for most teams this time of year.”

The Bruins can even the series Sunday, but history isn’t on their side. They’re 1-20 in best-of-seven series when they’ve lost the first two games on the road. They’re 2-15 when they’ve fallen behind 2-1.

“Our adversity came down to zero,” Cassidy said. “Big picture, we need to win. Some of our veteran guys have been there, so I think their words carry a lot of meaning. It’s not just words, they’ve been there, they’ve lived it. So I think guys can have a calmness about them because those guys have been there and experienced it.”


At the same time, there’s recent history between the two teams. The Bruins knocked the Canes out of the playoffs in 2019 and 2020 and Jake DeBrusk believed there’s some motivation for Carolina from those two losses.

“We understood that this is going to be the hardest out of the three series that I’ve been a part of anyways,” DeBrusk said. “We expect them to come with a response. They’re a very highly-motivated team. It’s one of those things that you remember certain things against other teams — playoff series that I’ve been part of for five years — and this is the best I’ve seen them play.”

For Cassidy, it was inevitable that the Bruins would run into turbulence in the playoffs. Now it’s a matter of pushing through.

“I don’t know when the best time is,” Cassidy said. “I’d love to experience it in the Stanley Cup Final. That’s our goal. But to get through it early here a little bit, we got through one game right. We’re still behind. So we’re still facing adversity, we need to to continue to get better to get a win tomorrow. So that’s the way I was looking at it.”


Lindholm skates but won’t play

Hampus Lindholm skated Saturday but won’t play Sunday in Game 4. Lindholm, acquired from the Anaheim Ducks before the trade deadline, suffered an upper-body injury in Game 2 when he took a brutal hit from Andrei Svechnikov. He missed Game 3 … Joe Foley, the timeout coordinator who was taken off the ice on a stretcher Friday when a pane of glass by the Bruins penalty box was shaken loose by a fan and landed on top of him, is recovering after being taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons. “Joe was released from the hospital shortly after being examined last night,” said NHL spokesman John Dellapina. “He’s home and recovering and we hope to see him back at his post later in the series.”

Julian Benbow can be reached at julian.benbow@globe.com.