Boston Bruins rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman will make his first NHL start Tuesday night when the Bruins play the Philadelphia Flyers in the tail end of their home and home and back-to-back set and the first game of a three-game road trip for the Bruins.
With both Jaro Halak (COVID Protocol) and Tuukka Rask (lower-back) out of the lineup, fellow Boston Bruins rookie goaltender Dan Vladar started Monday night and Swayman backed him up. The 23-year-old Vladar was solid again, making 29 saves but it wasn’t enough as the Bruins blew a late 2-1 lead and lost 3-2 in overtime. Now the 22-year-old Swayman will get his shot after shining with the Providence Bruins this season and going 8-1-0 with a 1.89 GAA and .933 save percentage in his first nine professional starts in the AHL.
Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy – who acknowledged that he hasn’t seen much of Swayman this season due to his schedule – told reporters on Tuesday morning that he has made Swayman aware that with Rask’s and Halak’s status uncertain, he could call on the former University of Maine standout and Hobey Baker Award finalist to be ready for more action in the coming days. Other than that though, he’ll let Boston Bruins Goalie Coach Bob Essensa make sure Swayman is ready for the biggest moment of his life so far.
“Well, ‘Goalie Bob’ [Essensa] will talk to him obviously and he’ll still get his shooter’s perspective because he was with us last night and that helps him to see a little bit of their style of play,” Cassidy said. “But you’re gonna get your first game sooner or later, so here we are in the middle of a busy week and he knows he might go right back in it if Tuukka and Jaro aren’t ready. So, I don’t think he’s thinking too far ahead about that. He’s just thinking about making his first save and the next save after that.
I think every kid dreams about this opportunity and he’s getting his. He’s played well in Providence, condensed schedule there as well. He’s gotten some good reps and gotten some game situations being up here for practice so hopefully, he’s up to the task.”
In addition to Essensa, Vladar, who made 34 saves in his first NHL start and helped lead the Bruins to a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 16, has offered Swayman his ear and support.
“He’s a great goalie, so if he’s going to get the chance I’m pretty sure he’s going to do well and he’s going to leave it all out there,” Vladar said about Swayman after the game Monday night. “I’m pretty sure he has the same mentality as me, he just wants to save every single puck and he wants to win.”
Cassidy also confirmed that after missing 20 straight games and not playing since Feb. 18, defenseman Kevan Miller (knee) will finally return to the lineup and replace Steven Kampfer on the third defensive pairing with rookie Jakub Zboril. In addition to that, Chris Wagner will draw back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the last five games.