Don’t look now, but Boston Bruins rookie goaltender Jeremy Swayman is putting a stranglehold on the No. 1 goalie spot down the stretch.
The 22-year-old Swayman was brilliant over the weekend making seven saves in the third period vs. the Sharks while protecting a one-goal lead, including this piece of highway robbery on Tomas Hertl as the desperate San Jose Sharks were throwing everything at the Black and Gold net.
Jeremy Swayman robs Tomas Hertl with a sprawled-out glove stop: pic.twitter.com/3IDTGC5cSW
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) February 27, 2022
“When you’re not seeing a lot of rubber, it’s definitely tough to make sure you’re focused. But that’s what I want to emphasize on,” said Swayman. “I want the team to have confidence in me. When it’s not a lot of shots, no matter what, I’m ready.”
But then again, the Sway Man has been brilliant ever since he was called back up to Boston following Tuukka Rask’s retirement around the NHL All-Star break.
Overall, he’s 12-7-3 with a 2.04 goals against average and .926 save percentage and since he came back up to Boston Swayman is 4-1-1 with a 1.31 goals against average and .951 save percentage while getting six of the nine games played in that span. The technique, the aggressiveness and the active style of goaltending between the pipes are all the same, and Swayman’s rebound control has improved dramatically since the beginning of the season as well.
In other words, Swayman is playing like a guy that wants to be the No. 1 dude once the Stanley Cup playoffs get going. Maybe, finally, the Boston Bruins aren’t so nervous anymore about a newcomer goalie getting their first playoff experience this spring for the Black and Gold. After all, that was one of the reasons why the B’s brought back Tuukka Rask in the first place this season in a comeback attempt that clearly didn’t work.
“He’s probably a little ahead right now. We don’t want to declare anything,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy ahead of Saturday’s win over the Sharks. “That’s the next phase for him. Can he handle the majority of the starts as a young guy? It might play out that way for him if he continues to play the way he has.”
Clearly Ullmark hasn’t been as sharp over that time with a 1-2-0 record with a 3.69 goals against average and .888, and that’s created an opening for Swayman to step up and seize control of things between Boston’s pipes. That was the case when he stepped up and was perfect stopping 7-of-7 shots to secure the two points against the Sharks on Saturday.
“He’s just getting better and better,” said Cassidy. “And again a few puck plays we’ve got to talk to more, thought we can sort of increase our efficiency on the breakouts. That’s been a challenging area for us. But in terms of stopping the puck, [Swayman] looked square all night and [when there was] some traffic around the front of the net where he’s recovering well now. A lot of good in his game.”
“It’s almost like the best (goalies) step up when your team has a lull. It’s like, ‘OK, this is my time now, they need me, I’ve got to be there.’ I think you see that with Sway.”
And you see the glorious postgame victory hugs as well.
Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman — big hug guys.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) February 27, 2022
Above all that, Swayman clearly has great taste in North End restaurants as well.
Did you notice anything special on Jeremy Swayman’s Goalie mask?
He loves Tresca so much he put us on it! We love you back Swayman! pic.twitter.com/0CLC7Meyu9
— Tresca Restaurant (@TrescaNorthEnd) February 26, 2022
At this point, Swayman has risen to fourth in the NHL in both goals against average and save percentage and has shot up the ranks in terms of the fancy stats goaltending categories as well. It wouldn’t be shocking at all if his name is going to be mentioned in high level trade talks for impact players like Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun over the next few weeks.
But with Rask’s retirement, Ullmark sort of hitting a plateau and Swayman playing brilliantly and exactly like he did down the stretch last season, Swayman is wrapping his arms around being “the guy” for the Black and Gold as has been predicted for him since the beginning of last season.