A big question going into the 2022-23 NHL season was how the Boston Bruins defense was going to perform without Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk.
The answer became pretty clear, pretty quick.
Everyone on the blue line stepped up and began to play their best game, specifically Hampus Lindholm and Derek Forbort. Forbort and Connor Clifton really began to solidify themselves as the third pair and never were afraid to throw their weight around, make blocks and even act as a second goalie at times.
But the defense took a blow Thursday when the Bruins announced Forbort would miss four-to-six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair his right middle finger he fractured during the B’s 6-5 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Forbort was playing some of his best hockey before the injury, and even had five hits and two blocks in just 5:03 of ice time Tuesday in Pittsburgh. He had been playing at a high level and even when Brandon Carlo missed four games with a concussion, Forbort didn’t hesitate to step up.
So losing him, while still being down McAvoy, certainly isn’t ideal, especially with Fobort being an unsung hero this season and having been efficient on the penalty kill.
His absence will hurt, but when one door closes, another one opens, though, and Mike Reilly will get a chance to see some more NHL action after being between Providence and Boston to begin the season.
“I just come to the rink every day with a good attitude, you can control that,” Reilly told reporters Thursday prior to the Bruins’ win against the Rangers. “So that’s what I’ve been trying to do every day when I want to come to the rink and just work on my game. That’s what I’m focused on. And then there’s times you want to kind of think ahead a little bit in the future and whatnot.
“But, obviously, we had (Forbort) go down the other night, which is very tough to see. He’s a close buddy of mine. But now there’s an opportunity and you just come to the rink every day with a good attitude and come to work.”
No, Reilly doesn’t bring the size or physicality Forbort does, but he’s fast and has solid puck movement.
With Forbort on injured reserve and McAvoy’s impending return, the Bruins won’t need to hurry to make a roster move in order to be cap compliant. A move still would need to be made, but that’s a bridge to cross once this team is fully healthy.