By: Melanie DaSilva | Follow me on Twitter @meldasilva9
As the Boston Bruins finish the regular season, they are in a situation they have not been familiar with in a while — who will be their starting goaltender for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs?
Throughout the entire season, the Bruins have rotated between Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman. Though there has not yet been an official announcement, the Bruins may have a better idea than they’re giving out for who will be the Game 1 starter after head coach Bruce Cassidy spoke to the media on Wednesday.
“We’re still evaluating that. I think Linus has been ahead of Swayman of late; numbers-wise, anyway, it’s been a little smoother for him. Linus is going to start tomorrow, and Sway will start in Toronto, and then we will make our decision,” Cassidy said. “It being playoffs, we’re going to be a little more coy about it than we typically would, but we’ll certainly announce it as we get closer.”
Swayman had the edge to be the starter for a majority of the season, but the 23-year-old rookie hit a slump over the last month that allowed Ullmark to jump ahead of him.
Ullmark is 5-1-0 with a 1.41 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage in seven appearances during the month of April. He also earned his first shutout with the Bruins, against his former team, in their 5-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres Thursday night.
“That was great. A lot of emotions playing your old team, it puts a little more special feelings with it, so that was pretty cool,” Ullmark said. “I’m focused on what’s to come now, and regular season doesn’t mean anything when you get into playoffs.”
Swayman, on the other hand, is 4-4-0 with a 2.92 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage over the last month.
Although Ullmark looks like he should be the starter for Game 1, it seems like there is going to be more of a two-person rotation this postseason than there has been in a long time. Tuukka Rask was the most recent unquestioned playoff goalie during his time in Boston, and before that, it was Tim Thomas.
This may be the first time the Bruins have had a two-man goalie since Andy Moog and Reggie Lemelin in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
No matter who ends up being between the pipes for the Bruins, they will be making their first career playoff start when the puck drops in Game 1.
While it seemed like the Bruins would be playing the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round was inevitable, Boston had a slim chance of leapfrogging the Tampa Bay Lightning if the Bruins closed out the regular season with two wins and the Bolts dropped their last two games.
That scenario is almost complete, with the Bruins winning on Thursday and the Bolts losing to the Blue Jackets.
On Friday, the Bruins have to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Bolts have to lose to the New York Islanders for Boston to avoid playing the Hurricanes. If the scenario plays out that way, the Bruins will be heading up to Toronto for Round One.
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