By: Max Weisman | Follow me on Twitter / X @maweisman
He’s had only six starts this season, but Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman has put himself squarely in the Vezina Trophy conversation. Swayman, who got the start and the win in the Bruins’ 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars Monday, improved his record to a perfect 6-0-0.
Swayman has allowed a 1.49 goals-against-average and has a .952 save percentage with one shutout this season. Those are good enough for second in the league behind Avalanche goalie Ivan Prosvetov, who has only made two starts. Swayman’s six wins are also tied for second most in the league, behind just Thatcher Demko and Alexandar Georgiev, who each have seven respectively.
For advanced stats, according to MoneyPuck.com, Swayman has the second-highest goals saved above expected, second-highest wins above replacement, and a .950 save percentage on high-danger shots.
The last three Vezina winners, Linus Ullmark, Igor Shesterkin, and Marc-Andre Fleury, all had more GAA and a lower save percentage than Swayman does this season.
It hasn’t been just stats that have put Swayman into the conversation. He has made some great saves and saves on high-danger shots that have impressed. Against Dallas, he made 35 saves, including a series of saves in the second period to keep the Bruins ahead two. Swayman stopped a Wyatt Johnston shot from point-blank and a Tyler Seguin doorstop chance. Less than a minute later, he slid across his crease to deny Craig Smith an opportunity.
Swayman then stopped Smith again on a centering shot and fell on the loose puck to freeze it. Swayman eventually let up two goals in the third period to Johnston and Joe Pavelski but slammed the door late to give his team two points.
The game marked the fourth time Swayman made 30 or more saves this season. He had 12 such games last year. Who else is putting on goaltending performances like Swayman thus far? In four starts, Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov has similar stats to Swayman but is only 2-2-0. Red Wings goalie James Reimer is in the same boat as Varlamov, with a 2-2-0 record. Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko could make a case to rival Swayman’s early Vezina bid. The Vancouver goalie has a .967 save percentage and a 1.61 GAA with a 7-2-0 record. Swayman has the trump card, however, an undefeated record.
The Bruins, as an organization, have to be feeling great about Swayman’s season. They got a good arbitration deal this offseason and are paying him $3.475 million this year. They’ll have to go through it again this upcoming offseason as Swayman will remain a Restricted Free Agent, but that’s months away.
With the Bruins alternating their starting goalie each game, expect Linus Ullmark to get the start in Thursday’s game against the Islanders. Swayman’s next start is expected to be Saturday against rival Montreal. Right now, though, let’s enjoy Jeremy Swayman’s goaltending for what it is: Vezina Trophy-winning level performances night in and night out.