Bruins Weekly: Hall and Ullmark Return to Buffalo, Swayman & More

In this edition of Bruins Weekly, Jeremy Swayman struggled for the first time in his career, the Black and Gold have a tough two-game road trip this week, two former Buffalo Sabres’ return to Buffalo, and more.

Swayman Struggles Against Flyers

You knew that this going to happen sooner or later, right? After 10 impressive games in 2020-21, rookie Jeremy Swayman beat out Linus Ullmark for the starting job in the first game of the season in net against the Dallas Stars. After making 27 saves in the opener, coach Bruce Cassidy gave Swayman the first road game of the season against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 20. It was a forgetful night for both Swayman and the Bruins.

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

Swayman allowed a career-high five goals on just 24 shots in a 6-3 Bruins loss. It’s not that he allowed five goals, but for the first time in his very short career, he looked like he lacked confidence. His defense in front of him gave up too many odd-man rushes, but last season, you came to expect that Swayman would make a big save or two when needed. Expect Swayman to bounce back in his next outing.

Bruins Face Two Undefeated Teams in Panthers and Hurricanes

The Bruins are 3-1 after their first four games, but the schedule this week is going to be a good test to see where they are early in the season. Boston has back-to-back road games on back-to-back nights against a pair of undefeated teams in the Florida Panthers (6-0-0) and Carolina Hurricanes (5-0-0).

Florida has two very good young players in Anton Lundell and goalie Spencer Knight and don’t be surprised to see one of them as a finalist for the Calder Trophy at the end of the season. Alexander Barkov, Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart, and Jonathan Huberdeau up front are a handful for opponents to deal with, while Aaron Ekblad anchors a good defensive unit. Former Bruins No. 1 overall draft pick in 1997, Joe Thornton, signed a free-agent contract over the summer with the Panthers and is on track to make a return to the TD Garden on Saturday night when Florida visits.

Related: Bruins News & Rumors: Marchand, Foligno, Smith & Blidh

Carolina is one of the more balanced teams in the league early in the season in terms of production. Forward Andrei Svechnikov leads the team with five goals and Sebastian Aho has four. Frederik Andersen has won five starts this season in goal after signing as a free agent this summer. He has allowed just eight goals and has a 1.60 goals-against average (GAA) with a .946 save percentage (SV%).

Hall and Ullmark’s Happy Return to Buffalo

When the Bruins played the-then undefeated Buffalo Sabres at the KeyBank Center on Oct. 22, it marked the return of Taylor Hall and Ullmark against their former team. The Bruins acquired Hall at the trade deadline in April, while Ullmark signed as a free agent over the summer with Boston.

Linus Ullmark, Boston Bruins
Linus Ullmark, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Hall finished the game with a goal and an assist, but every time he touched the puck, the crowd booed him, despite him only playing just 37 games last season for Buffalo with two goals,17 assists, and a career-low plus/minus of minus-21. After taking a penalty late in the third period, Hall scored an empty-net goal to account for the 4-1 final right after coming out of the penalty box. It was Hall’s 10th goal since being acquired in April in just his 19th game for Boston, going back to last season. Only Brad Marchand has more goals with 14 since the day of the trade.

After struggling in the preseason, Ullmark turned back 35 Sabres’ shots in his Bruins debut and did not look anything like the goalie who struggled in training camp and the preseason. He was sharp in the first period when he made 15 saves as the Black and Gold were outplayed, but were still able to take a 2-0 lead to the locker room because of Ullmark. Sunday, Ullmark (23 saves) won his second game in three days when the Bruins beat the San Jose Sharks, 4-3.

McAvoy Reaches Milestone

On Oct. 15, Charlie McAvoy signed a long-term deal with the Bruins, locking up the young blueliner for eight more seasons in Boston following the 2021-22 season. It’s safe to say that when McAvoy reached a milestone in the Bruins 6-3 loss to the Flyers on Oct. 20 that it won’t be the last milestone he reaches as a member of the Black and Gold.

Charlie McAvoy Boston Bruins
Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

McAvoy picked up two assists, on goals by Hall and Marchand, for his 99th and 100th career assists. In his first four seasons in the league, McAvoy has averaged 24.5 assists a season, with a career-high 27 coming in the 70-game shortened 2019-20 season.

The Week Ahead

  • Wednesday: at Florida Panthers, 7 p.m.
  • Thursday: at Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m.
  • Saturday: vs. Florida Panthers, 7 p.m.

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