BRIGHTON, Mass — Boston Bruins rookie netminder Jeremy Swayman is a glass half-full kind of optimist and always has been. Some of it is about youthful optimism and the sheer belief in himself that the 23-year-old brings to the table, but some of it is simply about his makeup as a person and a competitor as well.
When the Bruins signed Tuukka Rask last month, it was Swayman that was the only choice to be sent to the minors despite putting up excellent numbers (2.31 GAA and .916 save percentage) in his first full NHL season sharing goaltending duties with Linus Ullmark. Rather than sulk or suffer from a loss in confidence, Swayman simply worked on his game while posting solid performances (2.18 GAA and a .911 save percentage) for the P-Bruins upon his demotion.
Now with Rask struggling and suffering physical issues during his comeback from hip surgery, Swayman is back and poised to start on Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden. Needless to say he’s excited about that and wasn’t going to let any of it turn into a negative as he simply ironed out the details of his game.
“I think it was an opportunity to get better mentally physically, and work on my game,” said Swayman, who said he worked on puck play, rebound control and seeing pucks through traffic were the biggest things he was focused on in Providence. “So I don’t want to make it a negative thing at all. I think there were a lot of positives that came out of it and I’m just so excited to be back with the team.
“Being able to go down there and be welcomed with open arms where everybody wants you to get get better and be back up here, it was a great environment to work in. I learned a lot with the playing time and the practice, and I’m just excited to be back.”
That Swayman reaction to being sent down, through no fault of his own during a strong NHL rookie season, tells everybody all they need to know about what makes the young goalie tick, and why he’s viewed as such an elite prospect with the Black and Gold right now.
Clearly the fans, the ones that were chanting “We Want Swayman” during Rask’s last start in a rough loss to the Anaheim Ducks a couple of weeks ago, are going to get their wish as things shift back to a Swayman/Ullmark tandem that was working this season.
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) February 2, 2022
Now on to the BHN Puck Links:
*Urho Vaakanainen continues to be out for the Boston Bruins after getting his head slammed off the glass by Yanni Gourde during last week’s win over the Seattle Kraken. (Boston Hockey Now)
*The Florida Panthers have landed a big amateur prize by signing top, undrafted OHL goaltender Mark Guzda to an entry level contract. These are the kinds of moves that can really bolster the treasure chest of prospects. (Florida Hockey Now)
*Jack Eichel has shed the no-contact jersey and is on his way to a return for the Vegas Golden Knights. Exciting times for them. (Vegas Hockey Now)
*Amidst some tumultuous times in net for the Washington Capitals, Pheonix Copley sees a chance to prove he’s an NHL goaltender. (Washington Hockey Now)
*Evgeni Malkin is in COVID protocol and that means the Boston Bruins will be facing a weakened Penguins outfit on Tuesday night. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
*Tough break for Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs as he’s forced to exit Monday night’s game after taking an inadvertent knee to the back of the head.
Auston Matthews went into concussion protocol after taking a hit to the back of the head pic.twitter.com/4shSJ3vNqL
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 8, 2022
*Interesting piece about the rise of power play success lifting NHL offenses to new heights this season as the man advantage is becoming a bigger and bigger factor all the time. (TSN)
*A lot of questions for the Buffalo Sabres as it looks like their playoff drought is going to reach 11 seasons without a ton to be optimistic about at this point. (Buffalo News)
*Interesting piece on Picabo Street, the role of feature writers and how that dynamic can play out over time as we roll into the Winter Olympics. (NBC Sports)