Linus Ullmark had a shaky preseason, but it appears he has started to come around.
The new Boston Bruins goaltender “lost” the battle for the starting job with Jeremy Swayman coming out of camp, as the rookie got the nod for Saturday’s season-opening win against the Dallas Stars.
But the plan all along for the Bruins was to play Ullmark and Swayman relatively evenly, unless one grabbed hold of the gig and was too hot to take out. As a result, Swayman will be back in net for Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, while Ullmark will play Friday against his old team, the Buffalo Sabres.
“For those two games, they were each going to play a game. We liked Sway’s game on the opener against Dallas on Saturday, so we’ll give him the net again,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “He knows them better than anybody, and they probably know him better than anybody. So there’s always a flipside to both of those, but hopefully he’s ready to go.”
It’s been a while since anyone other than the Bruins have seen Ullmark play, but Cassidy indicated the 28-year-old appears to be doing fine.
“Better, less active, probably more similar to how he (usually) plays at the top of the crease,” Cassidy said. “He looks like he’s battling, he looks like he’s in a good place in the locker room, etc. I’m sure he wants the net and is disappointed he didn’t get the start, but as we said to them, it’s a competition. So, when you get your chance, do what you need to do to stay in the net so that we don’t take you out, and that’s the message to both of them.”
Any number of factors could have contributed to Ullmark’s play in the postseason, among them the fact that he was with a new organization and, thus, new system in front of him for the first time in his professional career.
But the preseason is over, and he now has the cleanest of slates to begin at.