By Gayle Troiani | Follow me on Twitter @LadyBruins Fan
Man, what a difference a season and an offseason make to a player in the NHL, especially Boston Bruin goaltender Linus Ullmark. In just three games this season, Ullmark has gone from the goaltender fans wanted to part ways with after losing two games to Carolina in the playoffs last year to the goaltender stealing the show, games, and the fans’ admiration. So, what changed?
“I feel a little bit more comfortable off the ice with the boys,” Ullmark explained following the 2-1 shootout victory against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, October 20. “Everything, just life basically … I’m in a better spot.”
Ullmark has started three games for the black and gold so far this season, and in each of the outings, the team has skated away with two points. He got the nod in net opening night in our Nation’s Capital, backstopping the Bruins to a 5-2 win, and then in the second home game of the young season, Ullmark made 38 saves in the 5-3 win over last year’s President Trophy winning Florida Panthers. But the game that everyone praises Ullmark was his 30-save performance against Anaheim.
Ullmark stopped all four shots he faced in the shootout, but the magic started in overtime when he made a tremendous save on a 3-on-none and then poked the puck away, keeping the score knotted at one.
“Please make one more save,” Coach Jim Montgomery said of the play. “That’s the only thing going through my mind. Not only did he make the save, he cleared the puck to the corner.”
Ullmark has logged 204:12 minutes of ice time where he has faced 113 shots making 106 saves for a .938 save percentage and 2.06 goals against average, earning him a top 10 rank amongst NHL goalies this season.
The Bruins currently sit on top of the Eastern Conference with a 4-1-0 record and eight points, but with 78 games to go, Ullmark knows things can change instantly.
“There’s going to be ups and downs,” he said. “We can’t take anything for granted. […] You never know in this league. You’ve got to be prepared to go to battle, to go to war every single night.”
As well as Ullmark is playing, the Bruins have continued the narrative of the goaltending tandem of him and Jeremy Swayman. Swayman has played two of the fives splitting the decisions. Unfortunately, Swayman’s statistics don’t bode as well as Ullmark’s so far because of the 7-5 loss to Ottawa on October 18. However, the team as a whole did not play well defensively against the Senators, so giving up on Swayman does not seem to be something Montgomery is considering.
“I have confidence in (Ullmark), no question. I have confidence in Swayman,” Montgomery said. “We’re really lucky to have the depth we have in goal.
Montgomery said it would be hard to go away from Ullmark following the win Thursday night and had to consider the quick turnaround for the game today against Minnesota because of the amount of time he spent in the crouch position, saying the team had to defend more than they would have liked. Montgomery ultimately named Ullmark the starter stating Goaltender Coach Bob Essensa said fatigue shouldn’t be an issue.
Are the Bruins going to ride the hot goaltender, or will Swayman get the start on Tuesday when Dallas comes to the Garden? Right now, it’s hard to say, but some of the fandom wants Ullmark to be number one.
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