Is Jeremy Swayman seizing the reins as the starting goaltender for the Boston Bruins?
Despite Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark originally being slated to start against the Montreal Canadiens Sunday night at TD Garden, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy and his staff decided to ride the hot hand and start Swayman against the struggling Habs. The move paid off as Swayman made 27 saves on 29 shots to earn his second victory in as many days and help lead the Bruins to a 5-2 win.
Last Wednesday, Cassidy laid out his goalie schedule to the media and the plan was to have Ullmark start at home Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers, which he did, Swayman in New Jersey against the Devils Saturday afternoon, and then back to Ullmark Sunday night against the Habs. Ullmark was solid and stopped 23 of 28 shots against Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and the Oilers Thursday but allowed three third period goals behind a leaky defense in a 5-3 loss. On Saturday, Swayman once again stopped 27 of 29 saves in another 5-2 win for the Bruins over the Devils. Cassidy hinted after the game that Swayman was starting to earn more starts than Ullmark.
“All in all his game has been pretty good. One game in Philly (against the Flyers) a bunch went in. … He needed more starts to get his numbers down. … All in all he’s been a very good goaltender for us. It’s a good competition and right now he’s a little bit ahead. … that needle has swung both ways,” the Boston Bruins head coach said.
After making 27 saves in a 3-1 season-opening win for the Bruins over the Dallas Stars on October 16, Swayman lost his next two starts with the aforementioned loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on October 20 in which Swayman let in five goals on 24 shots in a 6-3 Bruins loss. Ullmark would start the next two games and go 2-1 before Swayman’s next start when let in two goals on 23 shots in a 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on October 28. Swayman hasn’t lost since and has improved to 5-2-0 with a 2.16 GAA and a .914 save percentage.
Regardless of who may be taking over the starter’s role or becoming the 1A goalie for the Bruins, Swayman and Ullmark are maintaining a competitive, yet strong bond and have nothing but love for each other.
A regular post-win tradition between Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark. pic.twitter.com/3ouJAoNCtT
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) November 13, 2021
“I think we’re rolling in the right direction. A lot of learning experiences every game, especially in practice. (Linus Ullmark) has been great. We’ve been talking a lot,” Swayman said via team-provided audio. “Obviously Goalie (Bob Essensa) has been a great asset as well. So a lot of learning lessons and taking the positives from each day and rolling forward with it.”
While that unity is great and obviously beneficial to the dressing room, one can’t help but wonder if Ullmark’s attitude changes a bit if and when becomes a back-up or 1B with a $5 million cap hit? Either way, Cassidy deserves credit for not letting cap hits dictate who plays.