Montgomery On Ullmark: ‘Linus Didn’t Make Enough Stops’
BEDFORD, MA – If Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery switches to Jeremy Swayman as his starting goalie for Game 7 against the Florida Panthers on Sunday night (6:30 p.m. ET, NESN, TNT), at TD Garden, the reasoning will be pretty simple.
“Linus didn’t make enough stops; that would be the reason to make a switch,” Montgomery replied bluntly Saturday afternoon when asked why he may make the switch. “Plain and simple.”
Montgomery, Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron, defenseman Brandon Carlo, and forward Pavel Zacha met with the media after the Bruins landed back at Hanscom Air Force Base early Saturday afternoon. Montgomery refused the three chances to put a stop to the most burning question and lightning rod for criticism, and second-guessing aimed at him and the negativity surrounding the embattled Linus Ullmark.
Instead, the 2023 Jack Adams Award favorite let the dark cloud of uncertainty hanging over his two goalies and team remain on the eve of a Game 7 that could send the 2023 President’s Trophy winners golfing a lot earlier than planned.
“No, we’re going to meet tomorrow morning and we’ll finalize all that,” Montgomery replied before revealing his reasoning for a potential goalie switch.
Two questions later, one reporter bluntly asked:
“So will Jeremy Swayman get the start tomorrow?”
“What do you think? What would you do?” Montgomery asked with a wry smile. “I don’t know, I’m not sure yet.”
Swayman finished off the last four minutes of Game 4 after Ullmark got into a dust-up with Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk. Montgomery was asked about Swayman basically re-entering the series ice cold should he turn to the second-year netminder who went 24-6-4 with a 2.27 GAA and .920 save percentage.
“Sway is the most confident person I know,” Montgomery pointed out after telling the reporters there that he had no regrets on staying with Ullmark to this point.
The Boston Bruins have watched a 3-1 series lead over the Florida Panthers evaporate, and hanks to horrid team defense and unforced errors, as well as arguably Ullmark’s worst start (in terms of the magnitude of the game), in a 7-5 loss in Game 6, the Bruins are headed into a Game 7, they clearly didn’t plan on. Ullmark allowed six goals on 32 shots in Game 6, and Montgomery even admitted in his postgame presser that he seriously considered pulling the goalie that has gone 3-3 with a 3.33 GAA and .896 save percentage after going 40-6-1 with a 1.89 GAA and .938 save percentage.
As pointed out here earlier on Saturday, Montgomery’s insistence to make his starting goalie a mystery heading into almost every game day, and even one warmup, combined with the fact that leading Vezina Trophy candidate’s struggles and injury question marks, has seemingly become a giant distraction. A distraction so big, that it has apparently penetrated the walls of focus and discipline that the 2022-23 Boston Bruins pride themselves on.
So a nervous Bruins Nation will once again wait until at least the morning skate on Sunday to find out who Montgomery will entrust between the pipes for a Game 7 that will sadly diminish an historic season if it ends in a loss for the Boston Bruins.
If this puck scribe was setting the NHL betting odds on who starts for the Boston Bruins in Game 7, I’d say the smart NHL Betting play is on Jeremy Swayman.