Bruins Shouldn’t Worry About Swayman’s Recent Struggles

When Jeremy Swayman came to Boston for his 10-game stint for the Boston Bruins during the 56-game shortened 2020-21 season, he made quite the impression. Subbing for Tukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak who were injured, he teamed up with fellow prospect Dan Vladar to help the Bruins survive the injuries and claim an East Division playoff spot. 

Swayman impressed so much that when it was announced following that season that Rask, who was an impending free agent, was going to have surgery and a recovery that was going to be four-to-six months, general manager (GM) Don Sweeney traded Vladar to the Calgary Flames for a draft pick. Sweeney then signed Linus Ullmark as a free agent to begin the season with Swayman. Rask did return in January but retired after four games leaving the duties to Swayman and Ullmark.

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Swayman finished his first NHL season at 23-14-3 with a 2.14 goals against average (GAA) and a .914 save percentage (SV%). He added three shutouts and then collected three playoff wins in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes, and the former University of Maine standout was looking for bigger things in 2022-23 and it has yet to happen.

Swayman’s Early 2022-23 Season Has Had its Ups & Downs

Under first-year coach Jim Montgomery, Swayman and Ullmark began the season where they left off last season under Bruce Cassidy, alternating early in the season. Ullmark ended up taking command of the crease, but Swayman hit a roadblock on Nov. 1 when he was injured against the Pittsburgh Penguins when he collided with Patrice Bergeron. He would miss a month before returning against the Tampa Bay Lightning and back boning a 3-1 victory. His two outings since that night have been less than impressive.

Against the Vegas Golden Knights on Dec. 5 in a 4-3 shootout loss, he fell victim to some shaky defense in front of him and 21 minutes into the game, the Bruins were facing a 3-0 deficit. Yes, he was left out on an island by his blue liners, but Boston could have used a “big save’’ that Swayman has made in the past. He finished the game with 24 saves and four in the shootout. He was outplayed that night by Logan Thompson, who turned back 43 shots and five shootout attempts.

Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins
Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Swayman got back into the net against the Arizona Coyotes on Dec. 9 and once again took the loss. He faced just 16 shots in 60 minutes, but allowed four goals in a 4-3 loss, which included Lawson Crouse netting the game-winner with 13.7 seconds left on the clock. He made 12 saves, but again, a save here or there could have been the difference. 

“I wanted to make sure I was keeping it one shot at a time and making saves when I needed to, and I was one save short,” Swayman said. “I want to fix that and move on.”

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Another trend continued in that game as Arizona goalie Karel Vejmelka made 43 saves. The loss left Swayman’s record at 5-3-1 with a 2.80 GAA and a .887 SV%.

Bruins Should Not Be Concerned About Swayman

It could be easy to be concerned about Swayman going into a slump, but all the signs point toward that most likely not happening. When he came up and posted a 7-3-0 record with a 1.50 GAA and a .945 SV% and showed that he was not afraid of the big stage. Every young goalie hits a roadblock in their career and sometimes even a season and then ends up working their way through it. In this case, Swayman is fortunate to have Ullmark playing at a Vezina Trophy level through the first two months of the season.

As evidenced by his quote above, the 111th pick by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2017 Entry Draft knows that there are going to be games where he needs to be better in close games. A lot of the issues recently have been the result of poor defensive play in front of him, but an extra save here or there could have been the difference in either game.  In his previous two seasons, Swayman has proven he’s a future number-one goalie and he should return to that level sooner rather than later.

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