( Photo Credit: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

By: Jason Cooke | Follow me on Twitter @cookejournalism

Last season, Boston Bruins goaltenders Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman were at the forefront of the team’s epic 65-12-5 campaign that claimed an NHL record for both points (135) and wins in a single season. When Ullmark or Swayman were between the pipes, Boston never had to think twice about their goaltending situation. And just six games into the 2023-24 season, that sense of security hasn’t changed one bit.

Throughout the first six contests of Boston’s centennial season, both Ullmark (1.00 GAA, .962 SV%) and Swayman (1.34 GAA, .957 SV%) have excelled in each of their three starts. Amidst a season that was full of question marks ahead of game one earlier this month, the continued dominance of Ullmark and Swayman is for certain.

Alternating starts throughout last season, the duo found themselves in a rhythm that couldn’t be broken, capturing the attention of the hockey world with their signature goalie hug following wins. Ullmark posted a .938 SV% en route to a 1.89 GAA coupled with Swayman’s .920 SV% and 2.27 GAA. To top it all off, Ullmark took home the 2022-23 Vezina Trophy.

After falling short to the Florida Panthers in the opening round of the NHL playoffs last spring, the pair of netminders haven’t skipped a beat. In the Bruins most recent 3-0 win over Chicago that concluded a perfect 4-0 road trip, Swayman made 23 saves in the squad’s first blanking of the season. Although he didn’t see an overwhelming amount of shots, he endured three Chicago power play opportunities on his way to his tenth career shutout. He didn’t make any spectacular saves, but it was enough to get the job done on the last leg of an early-season road trip.

The game prior, Ullmark put on a showing of his own. In a 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks, the veteran made 30 saves against a young and talented Anaheim attack. After he played through an injury during last season’s first-round playoff bout with Florida, Ullmark has used this summer to work with the training staff and recover his body. In the win, Ullmark showcased some of his flexibility in a save against former Bruin Frank Vatrano at the beginning of the third period.

“We did a great job during the off-season and also here during the beginning of the season as well to get with the trainers to keep the hips in a good mood and being strong and flexible, and I’m very happy,” Ullmark said following the game. “I’ve taken the steps needed to be able to stand there and hold onto the edge and keep it outside the net.”

At 30 years old, the health and durability of Ullmark will be something to monitor as this season progresses. If he can stay in the rotation, Ullmark and Swayman are primed for another successful season in the crease. Assuming Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery moves forward with his decision to alternate starts between his two goalies, Ullmark should receive enough rest time in between starting nods to be able to recover.

With the losses of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Tyler Bertuzzi, among other off-season subtractions, there’s a cloud hanging over Boston’s offensive core this season. Averaging roughly three goals scored per game thus far into the opening month of the season, it appears as though Boston is going to find themselves in many one or two-goal games this winter where the performance of their goaltenders will make all the difference. However, with the recent emergence of 19-year-old Matthew Poitras, those offensive doubts may start to fade.

As Boston heads into a more challenging part of their first-half schedule, Ullmark and Swayman will certainly be put to the test. However, it’s safe to say Bruins fans will be in for a lot of goalie hugs throughout the season.