There understandably was a lot of hype around Jeremy Swayman coming into his first full NHL season after he dazzled for the Boston Bruins in 10 games in 2020-21.
So when he endured some struggles this season, it began to raise some questions about just how good is the Bruins tandem of Swayman and Linus Ullmark.
B’s general manager Don Sweeney told reporters they were just “OK” Tuesday and noted Swayman was going through “growing pains,” which is to be expected from any young athlete. Ullmark, meanwhile, is adjusting to a new team after spending his first six NHL seasons with the lowly Buffalo Sabres. Ullmark has been fine, but not great.
But with a potential return of Tuukka Rask on the horizon, it was Swayman who showed that he indeed can steal a game for the Bruins with a 42-save shutout against the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.
The Bruins and Swayman have struggled against marquee teams this season, so to shut out a 12-win team certainly won’t make the decision any easier about what to do with three goalies should Rask return to the club.
The Predators had some prime opportunities to score and really pull away from Boston, but Swayman made stop after stop and truly stole the game for the Bruins to improve their record to 12-8-0.
Swayman really shined in the final period when the Predators went on the power play and put up five shots, but the goalie denied each shot to keep Nashville off the board.
Now, one strong performance does not mean the Bruins won’t continue to consider bringing back Rask, nor does it mean that Swayman won’t be sent to Providence should that happen. After all, he is waivers exempt.
At the end of the day, though, Swayman made another step in proving what he can do between the pipes. If he can string together some quality wins and continue to steal games for the Bruins, it will be very interesting to see what happens if and when Rask is ready to return.