Boy it really is amazing what can happen when upper management sends out a code red that certain Boston Bruins players need to step it up.
As a team, the B’s answered the call by taking five out of six points in a three-game road trip through Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary and head back to Boston in an Eastern Conference playoff spot for the first time all season. The latest was a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night at the Saddledome where an ascending Linus Ullmark finished with 40 saves and earned plenty of deserved kudos afterward.
“Another solid outing [in net] again here tonight for us,” said Boston Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. “[Ullmark] came up big, especially in the first two periods when we were, at times, hemmed in our own zone a little bit too much. He made the quality saves when we needed them. Goaltending’s been good lately, given us a chance to win.
“Hopefully he can continue to find that success. He’s tracking the puck very well. He was competitive in the net. That’s the biggest thing. You’re competitive in there, you give yourself a chance. He gave our team a chance the last two games.”
And as a goaltending duo, Jeremy Swayman (31-of-32 for a .969 save percentage) and Linus Ullmark (81-of-85 shots for a .953 save percentage) were stellar throughout the grueling trip while posting a combined .957 save percentage in the three games.
Swayman has clearly been on an upward trajectory for a few weeks, but the last few games represent Ullmark’s best stretch in Black and Gold while throwing together some dandies like this double-stack pad save on Warren Foegele in the win over the Oilers.
linus double pad stack pic.twitter.com/f2BAb0SYPt
— Marina Maher (@marinakmaher) December 10, 2021
Some will point to Tuukka Rask’s appearance as an emergency goalie at Boston Bruins practice last week as the turning point. But it actually dates back to a clearly unimpressed Don Sweeney and Cam Neely terming the team’s goaltending play as merely “okay” thus far this season. One thing was for sure: It wasn’t up to the standard of the $20 million they’d spent on Ullmark in free agency prior to the season.
That in essence acted as a white-hot flame under butts that’s prompted improved play from both netminders.