There’s a line in the movie Young Guns that parallels what two up-and-coming Bruins goaltenders may go through next season: “There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip.”
That’s right… Boston’s very own Young Guns between the pipes (at least according to Upper Deck) will need to “shoot it out” during the offseason and in camp to prove who’s ready to take over Tuukka’s number one spot in the crease — at least for now.
Could it be the team’s actual “No. 1” goaltender, per his jersey, Jeremy Swayman? Or will the puck stop here at Dan Vladar, the at-times equally impressive newbie netminder?
In Part II of our “The Cup and the Crease” series, let’s explore the Bruins’ OUTLOOK in goal for the start of 2021 season and what the could mean for the team’s chances at winning the Cup and perhaps paying the aforementioned movie quote a bit of lip service.
From Alaska (where he grew up) to Maine (where he went to school), Swayman had been a star on every sheet of ice he’d ever played on.
And the same held true when he skated out for his first few NHL starts last season, impressing both the B’s brass and all of Boston with his 7-3 record, including two shutouts and an eye-poppingly impressive .945 SV% to go along with an equally noteworthy 1.50 GAA!
While he never had a chance to shine or bail the B’s out in the 2021 playoffs like he had hoped, just making the playoff roster over Jaroslav Halak was a huge confidence booster for the soon-to-be 23-year-old.
A fourth-round pick from the 2017 NHL Entry Draft (111th overall), Swayman has truly jumped up the Boston goalie depth chart quicker than an Andrew Raycroft reference at B’s trivia night!
Will that be a harbinger of things to come? We certainly hope not but with former “Young Guns” like Blaine Lacher, Jim Carey and even more recently Malcolm Subban still somewhat lingering in our creased memory banks, you can bank on management looking at more than just one save-making savior for next season. Speaking of which…
The Bruins’ 2015 third-round pick (75th overall) always shined while in Providence, earning accolades as one of the top goaltenders in all of the AHL last season.
The Czech native didn’t find the same consistent success as Swayman once promoted to the NHL — his record of 2-2-1 with a 3.40 GAA and .866 SV% being an obvious indicator of that in 2021 — but Vladar has always been considered a “top prospect” and viable future starting goaltender by GM Don Sweeney.
Yet, when asked about “Vladdy” after his impressive 2-1 regular season NHL debut win over the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this year, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy was blunt about the goalie’s immediate future in Boston — one that was definitely curtailed after the hot streak of Swayman caught everyone’s eyes:
That’s what makes this offseason so important and integral to every decision-maker in Boston about WHO gets the net, and consistently so, to start the 2021-2022 campaign. The WHY is already spelled out — Tuukka Rask will be trying to get healthy until early 2022 and Jaroslav Halak will be gone.
It’ll be up to Swayman or Vladar, and most likely a veteran backup who’ll be picked up in the offseason, to hold court in the crease. In fact, that’s what we’ll be exploring in Part III of our “The Crease and the Cup” series!
So, in the words of Young Gun Billy the Kid Bonney himself: “You get three or four good pals, then you got yourself a tribe. And their ain’t nothing stronger than that.”
If the Bruins follow that advice for between the pipes, then the team’s goaltending OUTLOOK may already be set!