SUNRISE, Fla. — Bruins defenseman Derek Forbort, his broken finger healed well enough, practiced Tuesday for the first time since he was hurt three weeks ago.
Wearing a plastic splint underneath his glove, Forbort took to the ice at FLA Live Arena. During the first drill involving goalies, he launched a slapper at the net and snapped his stick in two.
“This,” Forbort joked, “is what happens when you have a bionic finger.”
The cheerful-yet-deadpan Forbort skated with his teammates for the first time since breaking his right middle finger Nov. 1 at Pittsburgh. The defenseman had surgery two days later. Coach Jim Montgomery said Forbort was maintaining his skating legs for when he returns.
“There’s no updated timeline on him,” said Montgomery, adding that it was a good sign Forbort could stickhandle and make passes. “Still can’t shoot,” he said, before adding a joke. “Couldn’t before, either.”
Given the nature of the injury, Forbort didn’t believe doctors at first when they told him he had a four-to-six-week timeline. He feels he is on schedule.
“Everything feels good,” he said. “My hands didn’t feel like they got any worse … which is hard to say, but … no, it’s good. Trying to get the shooting back. That’s the last step.”
Forbort, like any injured player who spent time working out on his own, was in a good mood as he dived back into team activities.
“It was fun,” he said. “I’ve been doing drills the last week. It was fun to get in some game situations, make some plays, and try to hit Jake DeBrusk.”
Fun and games
The Bruins (17-2-0) are rolling, sitting atop the NHL on a seven-game winning streak. They are riding the high of Patrice Bergeron’s 1,000th point, which was celebrated in Fort Lauderdale late Monday after a bunny-hop of a flight from Tampa.
Tuesday’s workout was a breezy, 25-minute practice that included a full-ice three-on-three game, the first team to three winning.
It included DeBrusk scoring on a penalty shot, David Krejci going bar-down on a breakaway, and Brad Marchand slipping a pretty cross-ice feed to Bergeron for the winning goal.
The competitive juices were flowing — Nick Foligno, for example, was not happy about Referee Montgomery’s penalty call that preceded DeBrusk’s five-hole goal — but it also was a chance to snap the puck around with a smile.
Witness David Pastrnak sitting on the bench after a long shift spent in his own zone, rapping his stick on the boards and chanting “de-fense” (bang bang).
Witness Matt Grzelcyk grinning to himself after throwing an errant, 10-foot-high aerial pass, blue line to blue line, over Pastrnak’s head. He might not try that in a game, but in that setting …
“Pasta was [upset] that he played defense for two minutes the shift before,” Grzelcyk said. “I saw he was going, so I thought I’d throw it up and pray.
“We take our work very seriously, so it’s good to have fun again at the rink. I think we kind of made up our own practice plan today. At the same time, we know we have a lot of things to improve on. Monty’s well aware of that, too. He knows how to read a room.”
Trent Frederic did not practice. He is officially day-to-day with an upper-body injury, after missing all of Monday’s third period after crashing left-shoulder-first into the end boards. Montgomery said he was leaning toward playing Craig Smith regardless of Frederic’s status. The right winger (1-2—3 in 10 games) has sat the last four games, and has now been a healthy scratch for nine games this season. Smith, a 12-year-veteran, and his coach had breakfast together Tuesday morning. “He’s ready,” Montgomery said. “He’s a pro. His attitude’s great. He’s extremely well liked by his teammates and he’s a big part of the culture here.” … Marchand’s goal Monday was his first of the season at five on five. His others (6-9—15 in 11 games) have been on the power play … Montgomery on the group not getting too high: “It’s such a luxury to not have to warn the team [not] to read our press clippings. Bergeron, Marchand, Pasta, Krejci, [Charlie] McAvoy, Foligno — there’s an army of leaders in there. And I’ve said this before, but we have the best captain in sports, in my opinion.” … Jeremy Swayman is expected to start in goal against the Panthers Wednesday.