By: Kenneth Fenderson I Follow me on Twitter @KennethFendersn
Stellar goaltending is the common denominator in nearly every Stanley Cup winner in NHL history. If you subscribe to that theory, you no doubt believe, along with many others, that the Boston Bruins are the favorites to hoist the Stanley Cup as we head into the regular season’s final weeks.
Goaltender Linus Ullmark has had a career year. He’s the runaway favorite to win the Vezina Trophy at year’s end. He leads all goaltenders in nearly every measurable statistic. He’s even got a goal to his name. Simply put, there has been nobody better in 2022-23.
Ullmark signed a four-year contract worth $20 million in July of 2021. He spent the first six years of his career with the Buffalo Sabres. Playing time was hard to come by for Ullmark early in his career, appearing in just 26 games from 2015-2018. His ice time increased drastically in 2018-19 when he played in a career-high 37 games for Buffalo. Injuries and inconsistency would mar the rest of his time with the Sabres, who would move on from the netminder when he hit free agency in the Summer of 2021.
He’s spent his first two seasons in Boston, splitting time with his good friend and fellow Bruins’ goaltender Jeremy Swayman. Ullmark appeared in exactly half of the Bruins regular season games in the 2021-2022 season. His debut season in the black and gold was sub-par, posting a .917 save percentage and a 2.45 goals-against average in 21-22. Since the start of the 22-23 season, he’s been a totally different player.
Ullmark’s numbers have been so staggering that there is only one comparable season in Bruins’ franchise history: Tim Thomas’ legendary 2010-11 campaign. Thomas backstopped the Bruins for the better part of a decade from 2002-2012, but he was never better than he was in 10-11. Posting a .938 save percentage, good for the fourth-highest in NHL history. He also finished with a 2.00 goals-against average, 35 wins, and 11 regulation losses. Thomas would win the Vezina and Conn Smythe trophies alongside the Stanley Cup that year.
Looking at the list of goalies with the all-time highest save percentage, you will see just under Thomas’ name at number four sits Linus Ullmark. Ullmark has an identical save percentage of .938 for the 22-23 NHL season. Besides the save percentage, Ullmark has largely posted better numbers than Thomas during his 10-11 campaign. Ullmark’s save percentage is currently 1.89, compared to the 2.00 that Thomas posted. He’s only two wins behind Thomas’ mark of 35, with ten games still left in the regular season. He’s also only been in the net for six losses, including four in regulation.
Will he be able to backstop the B’s to their seventh Stanley Cup? Only time will tell on that front. But this is certain: Linus Ullmark hasn’t just been good this year; he’s wrapping up the most remarkable regular season any Bruins Goaltender has ever had.
Leave a Reply