(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson / AP)
By: Max Weisman | Follow me on Twitter @maweisman
The magic of the goalie hug has propelled the Boston Bruins to another scorching hot start. After Thursday night’s shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins improved to 9-0-1, their best ten-game start in franchise history.
Goaltenders Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman are a huge part of this record-breaking start. The Bruins tandem has split starts in these ten games and has allowed only 16 goals. Good enough for the lowest goals allowed in the National Hockey League thus far, and teams can’t beat you if they can’t score.
Swayman, who got the start and win for Boston against Toronto, has allowed a 1.38 goals-against-average and has posted a .954 save percentage. In the Bruins’ 3-2 shootout win over the Maple Leafs, Swayman stopped 33 of the 35 shots he faced. He added two clutch saves in the shootout on William Nylander and Auston Matthews to seal the win.
Swayman also held strong and made pretty incredible saves. One came on John Tavares while the Maple Leafs were on a power play.
The other came just over a minute later, on William Nylander, on the same power play. These two saves kept the game knotted at two right after the Bruins allowed two goals in 1:03. These two timely saves are a huge reason the Bruins eventually ended up with the win. The Bruins are 5-0-0 when Swayman starts between the pipes and have outscored opponents 17-7 in those games.
Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Linus Ullmark is the other goalie in the Bruins tandem. Ullmark has allowed a 1.77 GAA and a .939 save percentage so far this season. Ullmark was in net for the Bruins’ only loss of the season, a 4-3 OT loss to Anaheim. He looked strong for the first 58 minutes of play, but the Ducks scored two goals with their goalie pulled in the final two minutes of regulation to tie the game up and won it in overtime.
Ullmark bounced back, though, and got the win when the Bruins beat the Panthers 3-2 in overtime on Monday. In a game every Bruins fan and player wanted to win, Ullmark allowed two first-period goals but then kept the puck out of the net for the remainder of the game. Based on the current pattern of Bruins starting goalies, expect Ullmark to start in net on Saturday when the Bruins travel to Detroit.
When the season began, Bruins’ head coach Jim Montgomery recognized that his two goalies were a strength of the team, and said that when the schedule gets tougher, he will likely have them start every other game, something they’ve done since opening night.
“They give us a great chance to win every night, so keep them fresh,” he said.
Swayman, due to his restricted free agent status this summer, received a salary arbitration decision for a one-year contract worth $3.475 million on August 1. He will be eligible for arbitration as an RFA this coming offseason as well.
Ullmark, on the other hand, still has this season and next under contract with Boston after the four-year $20 million deal he signed in the summer of 2021. If the two goalies can keep up this production level, the Bruins should be eager to keep them both in Boston long-term.