By: Ryan Duffy | Follow Me On Twitter @Rduffy26
The Boston Bruins are off to the best start in their 98-year franchise history with a 12-2-0 record following their 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames Thursday night. The Bruins are also undefeated on home ice, as they are now 8-0 against opponents at the TD Garden. With Charlie McAvoy finally returning to Boston’s lineup and scoring in his debut, the Bruins now have gotten goals from 18 different skaters. Much of their early success can be attributed to the contributions that they’ve received throughout their lineup. With Jim Montgomery behind the bench, players have boughten into their roles, including Linus Ullmark, who’s earned the number-one spot as goaltender for the Bruins.
Ullmark has gone somewhat under the radar with the performances of David Pastrnak, who is third in the league in scoring with 22 points, and Hampus Lindholm, who is fifth in defensive scoring with 14 points. While the offensive production from their skaters is great for Boston, the backbone of the Bruins start has been Ullmark. Prior to his only loss this season to the Maple Leafs last Saturday, Ullmark tied former Bruins’ goaltender Tim Thomas with an 8-0 record to start the season. With his win over the Flames yesterday, Ullmark improved to 10-1, which tied another Bruins goaltending record for the fewest games to reach ten wins in one season.
Ullmark has been one of the busiest goaltenders this season as he leads all NHL goalies with at least ten games played with a 1.95 goals-against average and is tied for second in save percentage with a .936 S%. Ullmark’s goaltending has had to be spectacular, given the injuries Boston has had to start this year. With Jeremy Swayman out of the lineup for the foreseeable future after he sustained a lower-body injury against the Pittsburgh Penguins on November 1st, he will need to continue his strong play.
In his second year in Bruins’ uniform, Ullmark has found a home in Boston and confidence in his game. Not only is the Bruins’ goaltender confident in his own game, but he’s confident in the players in front of him, which goes a long way for a goaltender. “We’re doing a lot of things right,” Ullmark said following Boston’s win on Thursday. “We don’t take anything for granted. We’re checking, backchecking and that’s what we gotta do. We gotta be there every night because there’s no easy games. If we stick to our game plan and do what we’re supposed to do, we know that we’re a good enough hockey team to keep opponents away. … It doesn’t really matter what’s in front of us. We know what to do at all times it seems like.”
Ironically, last year many fans wondered why the Bruins signed Linus Ullmark in the 2021 offseason. They questioned whether he was the right goaltender to pair with rookie goaltender Swayman and whether it was the right decision given the Bruins’ cap constraints. While there are many Bruins fans who, rightfully so, doubt Boston’s management for their decision-making, Ullmark has given Bruins fans hope that he can help lead the Bruins organization to another championship. With the way Ullmark has played to this point, he has to be in the early discussion for the Vezina Trophy.