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NHL Scout: Bruins Can Play ‘Mind Games’ With Goalie Rotation

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Could a strict goalie rotation of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark in the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs give a unique mental edge to the Boston Bruins?

“Absolutely it can,” an NHL pro scout replied when asked that exact question on Wednesday afternoon. “They can play mind games with opposing scouting staffs, and that’s what they’ve been doing the past two (including this one) regular seasons. Do you know what it’s like having to advance scout for two goalies in a Stanley Cup Playoffs series? I know I don’t, and I’m guessing no other teams do either because when has it ever been done?”

The late eighties/early nineties Boston Bruins duo of Reggie Lemelin and Andy Moog, specifically in 1988-89, was the closest thing both the scout and this pushing 50-year-old puck scribe could think of. However, even that wasn’t an even, game-by-game split.

“It’s the game-by-game thing that could give them a huge edge as long as the goalies and players are cool with it,” the scout said. “That’s what it’s gotta be, though. You can’t go two Ullmark and then two or three Swayman. Obviously, injuries could dictate that but even if one guy is lights out and the other guy is good but not as good as the other, you stick with it. I really think this could be a huge edge.”

This past weekend, Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery sounded more open to sticking with the game-by-game rotation than ever before.

“I think if we commit to a rotation, it’s gonna be Game 1, Game 2, Game 3, [then] Game 4 if that’s what we end up deciding, and then we can go from there,” Montgomery told reporters. “I mean, obviously, performance and winning in the playoffs dictates a lot of decision-making, but this is what we’re comfortable doing. It’s what our goalies are used to preparing.

“We’ll see what ends up happening. It’s hard when you win Game 1 — if you do win Game 1, do you switch? But if you’re committed to it, and it’s the way you think your goaltenders have had tremendous success the last two years, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to switch. But as we all know, results really matter, and they’re immediate in the playoffs.”

The decision on a strict rotation between Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark likely won’t happen until the three full days between the Bruins’ last regular season game against the Ottawa Senators next Tuesday at TD Garden and Game 1 of their 2024 playoff run on April 20. If they chose to stick with the strict rotation, though, it could leave their opponent in foreign territory as they scout ahead of and within the series.

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