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Boston Bruins Looking For Ullmark to ‘Accept The Challenge’

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Boston Bruins

BRIGHTON, MA – After watching Jeremy Swayman start six of the last eight games for the Boston Bruins including four on the just-concluded highly successful six game road trip, a struggling Linus Ullmark will get his chance on Monday night for a B’s team returning home to take on the Los Angeles Kings. As the 23-year-old Swayman has soared and now sits second and fourth in the NHL in goals against average (2.03 goals against average) and save percentage (.927) respectively, Ullmark has posted a 1-3-0 record with a 3.77 goals against average and .881 save percentage in four games.

Even the Boston Bruins coaches have admitted that Swayman has seized control of the No. 1 goaltending spot with the condition that he continues playing well, and that will undoubtedly have playoff playing time ramifications as we get deeper into the regular season. So now is the time for Ullmark to step up his game if he’s looking to widen the gap with Swayman and stay on the radar for a bigger role when it comes to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“Now we’re going to find that out because Swayman has had a good run here,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, when asked how supportive the former Buffalo Sabres netminder has been in the new goalie tandem. “You’re getting to the point in the season where production matters maybe a little bit more than it did early on. [Earlier in the year], you’re sorting through who is better at any position.

“They were both getting earmarked for a certain number of starts, but now you’re starting to see Swayman separate himself a little bit. It’s up to Linus to accept the challenge and want the net back in terms of what we need to help the team win in that regard. They seem to get along very well. They’re both younger guys. Swayman is still in his infancy of his NHL career compared to Ullmark, but it’s not like Linus was like Tuukka and he’s been around for 15 years. I think that helps them both that they feel like they’re just getting started. Then at some point, it’s just natural competition to see if one is better than the other and gets the net. That’s the point where you need to make sure body language doesn’t enter into [the equation] or one stops supporting the other. I haven’t seen that at all.”

Aside from Ullmark getting a big start on Monday night when the Bruins will undoubtedly need a big-time goaltender performance, Matt Grzelcyk (upper body) is a game time decision after aggravating an injury on the road trip. If Grzelcyk can’t play then young puck-moving defenseman Jack Ahcan will be called upon to enter into the Black and Gold lineup.

Urho Vaakanainen was on the ice skating with the Boston Bruins at Warrior ice Arena on Monday morning’s skate but was still wearing a no-contact sweater as he slowly returns from an upper body injury as well. Here’s the projected Boston Bruins lineup for the Black and Gold vs. the Kings based on Monday’s morning skate:

Marchand-Bergeron-DeBrusk

Hall-Haula-Pastrnak

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Frederic-Coyle-Smith

Foligno-Nosek-Lazar

Reilly-McAvoy

Grzelcyk/Ahcan-Carlo

Forbort-Clifton

Ullmark

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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JustJim

Hey Ullmark, it’s time to start showing you are worth the big bucks they’re paying you!

no icing

ullmark has only one weakness in his game — shots that don’t hit him go in the net.

BruinsFan4Life

I like both goaltenders and I believe Swayman is more fundamentally sound. Ullmark needs to work more with the goalie coach and work on his fundamentals so he’s not flopping all over the place like a wounded seal. Reading about the trade possibilities, do they really think Montreal will trade Kulak with the Bruins?

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