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Murphy: Time To Ride Jeremy Swayman



Boston Bruins

Jeremy Swayman will start for the Boston Bruins tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden. Will this be the first of three consecutive or more starts for Swayman

In the eyes of this veteran puck scribe, the time has come for the Boston Bruins to stop rotating Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman and see how Swayman, their expected future No. 1 goalie, handles the workload of being the man between the pipes.

This could sound a bit strange after Linus Ullmark made some timely and clutch saves en route to an 18-save performance in the Bruins’ 2-1 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. That followed up a brilliant outing for the reigning Vezina Trophy winner last Saturday when he made 39 saves in a 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sandwiched in between that game was a rare stinker by Jeremy Swayman, who allowed four goals on 21 shots in a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues last Monday.

“At some point, we might want to see someone play three games in a row. That’s kind of what we’ve discussed,” Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said after that loss to the Blues. “We haven’t discussed it since a couple of weeks ago – let a guy go on a run and let the other guy go on a run, just to assimilate the demands of playing.”

Prior to the Bruins’ 2-1 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night in Montreal, Montgomery was asked about the topic again. The 2023 Jack Admas Award winner wouldn’t commit to any game plan for his goalies but still acknowledged the topic has and will be discussed between him, his staff, goaltending coach Bob Essensa, and team management.

“I don’t know,” Montgomery replied when asked by Bostonn Hockey Now if a decision had been made. “I mean, that’s something that we’ll just continue to talk about internally if it makes sense. We have a little more rest now on our schedule after a heavy load of games, so it might make more sense a little bit then. But we also worry then that a goalie might not get in for almost six or seven days.”

After a Vezina Trophy-winning regular season, the Bruins started Ullmark in each of their first six playoff games against the bottom-seed Florida Panthers last year before turning to Swayman in their eventual Game 7 loss. Are the Bruins willing to keep a rotation going until the playoffs again this season and then switch to either Swayman or Ullmark for consecutive starts?

“You might go two games in a row with one goalie if we keep doing [the rotation] and rotate after that,” he said. “Just when you start winning in the playoffs, it makes it harder to switch – lineup and goaltenders. But that’s something that we’re gonna have to discuss internally, and we know if you go with a platoon the whole year, switching in and switching out, you can’t expect one guy to ride the emotions of the playoffs by themselves.”

Swayman got the only extended run of starts of the duo when Ullmark was sidelined by an injury in January. He went 3-0-3 as he made six straight starts, the only time this season either goaltender has started more than two straight.

With Swayman needing a new contract again this summer after being awarded a one-year, $3.475 million deal in arbitration last summer, reports Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, as he did at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft weekend, tried feverishly to move Ullmark heading into the March 8 2024 NHL Trade Deadline. According to multiple reports, Sweeney had a trade in place – but as BHN confirmed, not with the Los Angeles Kings – but Ullmark vetoed it.

“I really like the tandem we have right now,” Sweeney said after the trade deadline passed. “I’m very happy that we stand pat there. Rumors are rumors in terms of what happens in private conversations. You guys know me well enough it’s not coming from here in terms of what we’re trying to explore and what other teams are asking about. I made no bones that if I had to rob from a real strength of this hockey club, that was something we may have to do if it made our team ultimately better, and we didn’t move in that direction.”

The reality is, though, that if he’s signing Swayman to what’s expected to be a 5-7 year ($6-7.25M AAV?) contract, the Boston Bruins GM will try to trade Ullmark to a team not on his modified 15-team no-trade no clause. If he can’t do that again, he will ask Ullmark to waive again. So, choosing Swayman now and in the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs, as the clear No. 1 goalie will not only give the Bruins a better chance to advance past the first round but will also send a clear message to Ullmark that if he won’t waive in the offseason, then he will be the backup next season in the final season of his four-year, $20 million contract.





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