Bruins Prospect Swayman Named One Of Three Hobey Baker Award Finalist

( Photo Credit: NHL | Nhl.com )

By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh

The Boston Bruins’ 2017 fourth-round pick, Jeremy Swayman, is one of three players named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Swayman has been a stone wall for the University of Maine the past three years and won multiple awards this season for his outstanding play. The Hobey Baker award is essentially the Heisman trophy for NCAA Hockey, which is awarded to the top player in Division I hockey and the winner will be announced April 11th on ESPN during their SportsCenter Broadcast at 11 p.m. EST.

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Swayman led the NCAA this season with 1,099 saves and placed second in the nation with a 0.939% save percentage and a 2.07 GAA. He had saved 30 shots or more 25 times this season and even had an astounding 52-save game against Providence earlier this year. The other finalists for the Hobey Baker award are; North Dakota forward Jordan Kawaguchi and Minnesota Duluth defenseman Scott Perunovich. If Swayman is awarded the Hobey Baker award, he will be the first goaltender to receive the award since 2011.

The awards continue to pile on for Swayman; this season, he was crowned NCAA (Hockey East) Goaltender of the Year, Player of the Year, and First All-Star Team award as well. He was also named to the NCAA (All-USCHO) Second Team and won the NCAA (New England) Walter Brown Award. The last time a goaltender won the Walter Brown award was during the 2010-2011 season.

Swayman, a business administration major with a concentration in management, finished his academic career with a 3.38 GPA. He is forgoing his senior year at the University of Maine due to recently signing a three-year entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins organization. He will be looking to impress at camp this year to secure a spot with the Providence Bruins, with goaltenders Maxime Legacé (UFA) and Daniel Vladar (RFA) having their contracts expire this off-season.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 172 that we recorded below on 3-26-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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Bruins G Prospect Jeremy Swayman Named Hockey East Player Of The Year

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Photo: University of Maine Athletics

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins goaltending prospect Jeremy Swayman was named Hockey East Player of the Year per a league announcement on Thursday morning. Swayman signed his entry-level contract with Boston on Tuesday, forgoing his senior year at the University of Maine.

The now former Black Bears standout posted one of the best seasons by any goaltender in college hockey, totaling 1,099 saves, the most of in Division I. Swayman’s 782 conference saves, the most by a Hockey East netminder since the 2010-11 season, and .932 conference save percentage led the league.

The Anchorage, AK, native’s .939 overall save percentage was good enough for second in the nation. The junior also carried an overall record of 18-11-5 (12-9-3 Hockey East), posting 25 games with at least 30 saves and five contests with at least 40 stops. With the strong campaign, Swayman is firmly in the conversation to receive the Mike Richter Award, given annually to the goaltender voted to be the most outstanding in Division I.

The Player of the Year honor comes as yet another distinction for Boston’s fourth round pick (111th-overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft as he was named a Hockey East First Team All-Star, and part of the All-USCHO Second Team. The 21-year-old was a also named the recipient of the Walter Brown Award as the top American-born college hockey player in New England, and as a top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given annually to the nation’s top college hockey player.

Upon signing his pro deal earlier this week, Swayman joins a cast of goaltenders, including Dan Vladar and Kyle Keyser, vying to become the successor to Bruins netminders Tuukka Rask, 33, and Jaroslav Halak, 35.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 169 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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For Bruins’ Tuukka Rask There’s More To Life Than Hockey

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( Photo Credit: NHL.com  )

By: Pasi Tuominen  |  Follow Me On Twitter @pasituominen

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is one of the best in his trade but make no mistake: this is a guy who values life off the ice as well.

After 34 starts in the 2019–2020 season, Rask ranks among the top goaltenders in the NHL. Coming into the season wasn’t easy, though. No one needs to be reminded of what happened in the Stanley Cup final last summer.

“It bugged me for a long time, and it still kind of does,” Rask told me recently. “But I was OK with the defeat after a while. Now that I have kids, there’s more to life than just hockey.

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“We gave our everything but came one win short. It could have gone either way. But that’s how sports are.”

Soon after the seven-game series against the St. Louis Blues, Rask headed home with his family. “I spent July in Finland and came back to Boston in August for some more serious training. Two months of playoff hockey was a tough call. In the summer, I had to take it easy and recuperate, too.

“Sometimes you have to forget about hockey, and as a father of small kids, it certainly isn’t difficult. I have played hockey for such a long time; I don’t feel that much pressure anymore. But you always have to be prepared, that’s the key. As long as you’re prepared, you don’t worry that much, and there will be no emotional burden.”

After Tim Thomas’ tenure, the Boston Bruins have put their trust mainly in European goalies. Rask shared the goaltending duties with Anton Khudobin for two seasons and does so with Jaroslav Halak now. After Sunday’s game at Madison Square Garden, Halak has 26 starts. Rask has been the starter in 34 contests.

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“I have great chemistry with Jaro, just like I had with Khudobin. Things are working out great. Jaro is a good goalie and a nice guy. We both work hard and try to help the team win hockey games. Sometimes I play more, sometimes Jaro does. It goes in cycles, really.

“Hockey is so fast and physically demanding that you must get some rest occasionally. Otherwise, you’ll get worn out. And if that happens, it’s hard to get your groove back. Sometimes you’re on a roll, sometimes you’re not. There’s no secret to that. It seems, though, that some months tend to be worse than others. During bad spells some people start to panic–I don’t.”

Although just five teams have scored more goals than the Bruins this season, Rask points out that Boston is a defense-first group. Indeed: the Bruins have allowed a league-low 146 goals.

“Our mentality is to defend well and create offense out of that,” Rask said after Saturday’s win over the Detroit Red Wings. “It’s huge in this league and it works for us. If you want to go far in the playoffs, that’s how you have to play.”

The Bruins followed the Detroit win by defeating the New York Rangers at MSG on Sunday, 3-1. It was one of those nights that Halak got the call while Tuukka watched from the bench.

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“When you’re playing, you see the plays and mistakes differently. But when you’re not playing, you don’t analyze that much. On the bench, I just try to not be hit by the puck…”

There’s been a number of Finns – 14 to be exact – on the Bruins roster over the years. Young defenseman Urho Vaakanainen is one of them. Vaakanainen mainly plays with the AHL’s Providence Bruins; however, he’s been recalled a few times and has seven NHL games under his belt now.

“He’s played well and filled his role,” says Tuukka Rask. “He’s a mobile defenseman and gives a good first pass. His style of play suits us.”

Rask, who turns 33 in March, will have a contract year in 2020–2021, but it seems the Finnish shot-stopper is in Beantown for the long haul. Boston loves Rask, and the feeling is mutual.

“I enjoy the city of Boston as much as I enjoy the team. This has become my home. I tend to settle down in one place, I’ve always been like that. I accept changes only when they are absolutely necessary.”

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Rask’s Unbeaten Home Streak Has Landed Him In Vezina Contention

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(NHL with AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

The Bruins’ latest winning streak came to an end Sunday afternoon in Detroit, though one streak remains intact for the Bruins’ starting netminder, Tuukka Rask.  Following the 4-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes Saturday afternoon, Rask extended his home regulation winning streak to 18 games.  Rask has not logged a regulation loss at the TD Garden since April 6, 2019, against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  The streak also breaks Gilles Gilbert’s 17-game winning streak to open a season, set back in 1973.

Rask is in the midst of an impressive year and is in contention for the NHL’s best goaltending trophy: the Vezina.  Considering goalies who have played more than 25 games this year, Tuukka leads the league with a 2.14 goals-against average and ranks second with a .929 save percentage behind Columbus’s Elvis Merzlikins.  He sports a 20-5-6 record with 67 goals against, which ranks sixth among NHL goalies.

The Bruins sit atop the NHL standings with 80 points, three points ahead of the surging Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals.  It’s no coincidence that Rask is among the top three goalies in contention for the Vezina, and his team is the best in the NHL.  He’s even made a case for the save of the season.

When it comes to the Vezina race, Rask has some stiff competition.  To open the year, Rask ranked behind Pekka Rinne, Frederik Andersen, and 2019 winner, Andrei Vasilevsky.  All three have been atop the goaltending ranks for the past few years.  Rask currently has the second-best chance to win the trophy behind Winnipeg Jets’ netminder, Connor Hellebuyck.

Hellebuyck is having a remarkable year in goal for Winnipeg.  He is leading the NHL with 1,306 saves and has been able to maintain a .920 save percentage.  To put this in perspective, his team has allowed 1,420 shots through the 46 games he’s played this year.  Rask has seen 942 shots and has saved 875.  Hellebuyck’s goals-against average sits at a high 2.67, which gives Rask has an opening to reclaim the trophy.

Rask etched his name in the Vezina trophy’s history books once before.  In the 2013-14 season, he ended the year with a 36-15-6 record and a league-leading .930 save percentage.  Tuukka also recorded a 2.04 goals-against average and seven shutouts.  He has consistently been a rock for the Bruins, including his performance in the playoffs.  This past playoff run, Rask was always the best player on the ice for the black and gold.  He led all goaltenders in the playoffs (who played past the opening round) with a 2.02 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage.

The Bruins have historically been a strong home team.  They rank first in the NHL with a 19-2-9 home record, and it’s no secret that Rask has been the main contributor to that success.  The Bruins are a few trade deadline pieces away from hoisting their seventh Stanley Cup.  They have the makeup, leadership, and experience to make another deep playoff run.  If Rask can continue his torrid pace at home, the Stanley Cup may be in a different set of hands at the TD Garden in June.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 165 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

A Bruin Goalie On The Horizon

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( Photo Credit: The Portland Press Herald )

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

Starting in the mid-90’s and continuing through the early 2000s, the Bruins struggled to draft their next brick wall.  They drafted Andrew Raycroft but traded him to the Toronto Maple Leafs after an impeccable rookie year.  Toronto sent Tuukka Rask to Boston and the Bruins paired him with Tim Thomas to eventually bring home their sixth Stanley Cup.

Tim Thomas eventually retired, handing the keys to Rask, who recently surpassed Tiny Thompson as the club’s most winningest goaltender.  Rask’s 33rd birthday will be celebrated in March and he has two years left on a 7-year deal.  The Bruins will more than likely re-sign Rask to make him a Bruin for life, but they’ll need to develop his successor now.  Thankfully, they already have a few goalies in the pipeline: Kyle Keyser, Daniel Vladar, and Jeremy Swayman.

Born in Anchorage, Alaska, Jeremy Swayman was the Bruins’ 111th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.  The Bruins drafted him from the United States Hockey League, where he was already committed to the University of Maine next fall.  Swayman ended his freshman year with a 15-12-3 record and a .960 save percentage.  He was awarded several awards throughout the season and recorded a season-high 50-save game against Quinnipiac.  He continued these heroic high-save performances in his sophomore year, recording 91 saves in a series with the University of Massachusetts Minutemen.

In his first two years with UMaine, it’s clear his team could rely on him for their defensive lapses.  Currently, his third year is no different.  His team ranks ninth in the Hockey East, only in front of Merrimack College and the winless University of Vermont Catamounts.

Swayman ranks first in saves throughout the entire National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) Division One hockey program with 822 saves in 25 games played.  He has 89 more saves than the second-highest goalie.  He averages 33 saves per game and still posts a .934 save percentage, which ranks sixth in Division One hockey. In fact, in all his years of playing junior or higher-level hockey, Swayman’s goals-against average has never been below .910.  He recently won the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week following a 73-save two-game split versus the fifth-ranked Boston College Eagles.

One word that best describes Swayman is consistent, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.  He has been nominated for the NCAA’s best player of the year: the Hobey Baker Award.  It has been awarded to only two goaltenders in its 38 years of existence: Robb Stauber and Ryan Miller.

Swayman has attended the Bruins Development Camp three times since he was drafted.  He has been sent back to the University of Maine all three times but was able to show off what opposing college hockey teams see each night.

It is not uncommon to send young goaltenders back to college for an extended period of time.  Their development is much more fluid than a skater and has even been a mystery to some teams in the past.  “There have been 95 goaltenders to make their NHL debut since the start of the 2008-09 season. Thirty-five (nearly 37 percent) of them were never drafted.”  Teams have invested more time, energy, and manpower in developing goaltenders.  Every NHL team has a goalie coach at almost every level, some of which are former players.  Bob Essensa, Dwayne Roloson, Bill Ranford, Mike Dunham, and Johan Hedberg are employed by the Bruins, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders, and San Jose Sharks respectively as goalie coaches.

Development camps give coaches and Bruins management time to evaluate their prospects.  General Manager Don Sweeney has the final call on each player’s movement, and he’s sent Jeremy back to college each time thus far.  Don may send Jeremy to finish his college career with UMaine next year, which can only help his development.  He has stiff competition with the likes of Keyser and Vladar in the AHL. Still, if he continues his consistent play and reliability, it will be hard for Bruins management to overlook when he enters the Bruins development camp for the last time.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 163 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!! 

Bruins Recall Maxime Lagace On Emergency Basis, Assign Dan Vladar

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(Photo: Providence Bruins)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced on Friday that the team has assigned goaltender Dan Vladar to the Providence Bruins, and recalled goaltender Maxime Lagace on an emergency basis. Vladar was recalled earlier this week after goaltender Tuukka Rask went down with what head coach Bruce Cassidy labeled a concussion.

Vladar served as backup to Jaroslav Halak in Boston’s 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night. The 22-year-old holds a 6-5-0 record with a 1.84 goals-against average, a .935 save percentage two shutouts in 12 AHL contests this season.

Lagace has been strong with the P-Bruins this season since signing a one-year, $700,000 contract over the offseason. Through 23 AHL appearances this season, the 27-year-old boasts a 14-6-2 record to go along with five shutouts, a 2.49 GAA and a .915 save percentage. This is the first time the club has recalled him this season.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound netminder was with the Vegas Golden Knights organization over the course of the last two seasons, spending time with both the big club in Vegas and the team’s AHL-affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. In 17 career NHL appearances, Lagace holds a .868 save percentage and a 3.92 GAA. In 184 games in the AHL over his career, Lagace has a .904 save percentage and a 2.84 GAA.

The Bruins will return to action on Sunday as they will travel to Pittsburgh for a matinee rematch with the Penguins. Puck-drop is slated for 12:30 pm.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Boston Bruins Recall Vladar, Providence Gets Netminder On Loan

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Word through the pipeline late this evening is that the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins have recalled goaltender Dan Vladar from their top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins. In 12 games this season with the American Hockey League club from Rhode Island, Vladar has a 2019-20 regular-season record of 6-5-0, a 1.84 goals-against-average, a .935 save percentage along with two shutouts. Since his return from a high ankle sprain in early December of 2019, the former 2015 third-round selection has been on top of his game after spending time rehabilitating with goaltending coaches Bob Essensa and Mike Dunham and many hours of video sessions.

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With the departure of Vladar to the higher NHL for coverage, the Providence Bruins have accepted a loan from the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies for netminder Martin Ouellette. The 28-year-old Ouellette played for the Boston Bruins “AA” minor-pro affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators this season but has most recently been playing with the Utah club. The journeyman goalkeeper was a 2010 Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick but has spent a majority of his minor-pro career in the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers organization.

In ten games with Atlanta, this season he’s posted a record of 4-6-0 with a GAA of 3.74 and .874 Save% in ten games to posting an 11-1-2 record with the Utah club contributing with a 2.11 GAA and .924 Save%. He had a pretty decent NCAA career at the University of Maine where he might’ve received positive praise from the aforementioned Mike Dunham who also spent time in a Black Bears Jersey back in the day.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins’ Rask Suffers Concussion In Loss At Columbus

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(Photo: Jamie Sabeu / National Hockey League / Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Just 1:12 into the first period of Boston’s 3-0 loss at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask took a punch to the side of the head from Columbus forward Emil Bemstrom, who did not receive a penalty on the play. Rask had to leave the game and did not return; following the contest, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy announced that Rask sustained a concussion from the play.

Rask has a history of dealing with concussions and migraine issues. This instance comes almost a year (360 days, to be exact) after the 32-year-old suffered a concussion after taking the worst of a hard collision with New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil in a game at TD Garden last season.

This season, in 28 appearances, Rask has a 17-4-6 record to go along with a 2.27 goals-against average (fifth-best in the league) and a .925 save percentage (fifth-highest) en route to being selected to the Atlantic Division All-Star team. On Monday, the Finn announced that he would forgo All-Star Weekend in order to get some extra rest and time with his family.

While no announcement has been made as to who the Bruins might call up, Providence Bruins netminder Maxime Lagace, who has a record of 14-6-2, five shutouts, a 2.49 GAA, and .915 save percentage in the AHL this season, seems like the most likely option. Providence’s, Dan Vladar, who is 6-5-0 with two shutouts, a 1.94 GAA, and a .935 save percentage, is also an option. Goaltending prospect Kyle Keyser, who is with the Atlanta Gladiators Boston’s ECHL-affiliate, is out with a concussion.

The Bruins will return to action on Thursday, Jan. 16, as they will host the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden. Puck-drop is slated for 7:00 pm.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins’ Rask To Forgo 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend

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(Photo: Winslow Townson / AP Photo)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask will not participate in the 2020 NHL All-Star Game, as announced by NHL Public Relations. Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevsky will replace Rask at the festivities on All-Star Weekend.

Rask spoke to the media on Monday evening before Boston’s visit with the Philadelphia Flyers, saying it was a tough decision that he put a lot of thought into. While the goaltender noted that it was an honor to be selected to the Atlantic Division All-Star team, he emphasized that he made his decision in order to get extra rest and time with his family.

“I had to be kind of selfish, thinking how much hockey we played last year, the short summer, wanting to play into June again, and [All-Star Weekend] falling right in the middle of our bye week.” Rask said to the media. “It was a selfish decision to go spend time with my family and get the mind and body rejuvenated.”

As is the case with players who decide to forgo All-Star Weekend after being voted in, Rask will be mandated by the NHL to serve a one-game suspension in the Bruins’ last game before the break or the first game following the break. Rask acknowledged the suspension during his media availability, saying it will probably be after the break.

The 32-year-old Finn also said that the organization supported his decision. In 27 appearances this season, Rask holds a 17-4-6 record to go along with a 2.27 goals-against average (fifth-best in the league) and a .925 save percentage (fifth-highest).

The Bruins will take on the Flyers on the road on Monday night at 7:00 pm before visiting the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. Jaroslav Halak will get the nod in goal on Monday, while Rask is expected to start in Tuesday’s contest, per head coach Bruce Cassidy.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

AHL Bruins Goaltender Vladar Has Been Stellar Since Return To Providence

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The 2019-20 American Hockey League regular season didn’t exactly get off on the right foot for Providence Bruins goaltender Dan Vladar in his second full season with the top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey Leagues Boston Bruins. After starting the campaign with a 1-1-0 record, a 2.99 goals-against-average, and .888 save percentage things would progressively get worse in his third appearance of the year.

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On October 16th, 2019, the Providence club was in Laval, Quebec to play in game one of a four-game road trip against the host Laval Rocket the minor-pro affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. Veteran netminder Max Lagace got the start this night giving up four goals in the first period. To start the second frame, Providence Head Coach Jay Leach opted to take the struggling Lagace out of the game in favor of the fresh Vladar on the bench in hopes of an offensive spark. Netminder Vladar would go onto make eight saves in the second period but to end the middle frame the former 2015 third-round selection would need relief himself. Vladar went down with a lower-body injury and would need help off the ice from fellow teammates and Providence trainer prompting the AHL Bruins to back to Lagace to finish the game.

Further medical evaluations concluded that Vladar suffered a high ankle sprain and was listed as week-to-week. Dan would spend a better part of six weeks on the shelf recovering from his injury but used the downtime to his advantage working with training staff along with longtime Boston Bruins goaltending Coach Bob Essensa and assistant Mike Dunham who’s entering his third season with the B’s franchise.

( Photo Credit: Alan Sullivan Photography )

The Athletic Bruins beat writer Joe McDonald spent a day in Providence on December 15th, 2019, and unveiled some interesting information when he had the chance to interview Vladar. In the article from McDonald, aforementioned goalie coaches Essensa and Dunham spent a great deal of time with the 22-year-old as he recovered watching countless hours of video fine-tuning the netminders game ultimately finding that the Czech Republic native was too active in the crease and needed to minimize his movements to be better prepared. All quotes below from McDonald’s December 16th “Down On Th Farm” article can be found HERE or click the hyperlinked quotes below to direct you to the originator.

“I don’t think I had the greatest camp, so it was something I needed to work on,” Vladar said. “I felt good physically, but the pucks weren’t hitting me and I wasn’t playing the way I wanted. (Spending time with Dunham) helped and so far it’s working really well. A lot of pucks can hit me and that’s what I’m trying to do more and more, and I feel comfortable every single game.”

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On November 27th, 2019, The Boston Bruins sent Vladar to the organization’s “AA” minor-pro affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators for a conditioning stint to test his return to professional hockey from an injury that commonly takes a while especially when it comes to goaltenders. Dan got the victory over the visiting Norfolk Admirals giving up two goals in a 4-2 Atlanta win. That was apparently enough for the Providence Bruins staff to see as the AHL club recalled Vladar to join them on the road in Charlotte, North Carolina to finish up a short three-game road trip against the Charlotte Checkers.

Dan was spectacular in his return stopping all 36 Checkers shots for his first shutout of the season and a game that would start a tremendous return with all accolades gravitating back to the tutelage and wisdom of Essensa and Dunham. Vladar would need just three more games to earn his second shutout of the season when he blanked cross border and Atlantic Division rival Springfield Thunderbirds in a 5-0 victory stopping all 42 shots he faced. Although the 6′-5″ 185-pound netminder looks to be completely healthy, he had this to say to McDonald after the game at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island below.

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“I felt great,” Vladar said. “It’s always easier for a goalie when you face that many shots. I felt really good. It was one of those nights where I saw the puck really well and felt like everything was hitting me. It’s a long season though, it’s nice, but I’m not getting too high from it.”

“To be honest, I can still feel it a little bit,” Vladar said of his ankle. “I’m doing treatment every day and (trainers) are keeping an eye on it.”

Since Vladar’s return from injury at the beginning of December, the second-highest ranked goaltender in his draft year (European Netminders Only) of 2015, has posted a record of 3-2-0 and compiled impressive 0.99 GAA, and .954 Save% numbers in that timeframe. His overall record for this season is still a respectable 4-3-1 record with a 1.49 GAA and .945 Save%. Dan’s AHL career numbers of 23-18-6, a 2.48 GAA, a .911 Save% along with five career No-No tells me he’s certainly stepped up a level in maturity as he continues to develop and from this small sample size since his return from the said high ankle sprain, I’d expect him to have a stellar season in the remaining games working alongside Max Lagace.

( Photo Credit: Gregory Vasil / Getty Images )

Lagace who’s contributed his own stellar play in his first season with the Boston Bruins organization since signing a one-year, two-way free-agent contract in the early month of July 2019, has been a solid mentor for the younger members of the crease with of course Vladar being around along with appearances from Kyle Keyser and Sean Bonar who was up from Atlanta lightening the workload with so many injuries. While the Boston Bruins don’t exactly look like gangbusters when talking about ranking the NHL’s best goaltending depths, its good to know that the organization will be in good hands with Essensa and Dunham at the helm to offer advice with the proper tools for the continued development of future netminders.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 159 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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