The Bruins found they had a strong tandem in Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark last season between the pipes, and they’ll enter the 2022-23 NHL season with the same duo.
Swayman will enter the new campaign without any uncertainty surrounding him. Last season, Tuukka Rask was rehabbing from offseason hip surgery and his looming return cast doubt on whether Swayman would be with the Bruins for the entire season. Even though the rookie was sent down to Providence among Rask’s return, lingering effects from Rask’s surgery forced him to retire, paving the way for Swayman to return to the B’s.
Ullmark did his job for Boston in his first season in Black and Gold and looks to build even further this year. He built a ton of chemistry with Swayman which included a now-famous goalie hug after each Bruins win that’s sure to return this year, and regardless of who gets the call Opening Night, we know the goalie on the bench will be 100% supportive of the goalie between the pipes.
Let’s take a look at the duo.
Swayman finished the 2021-22 season with a 39-23-14 record, a 2.41 GAA and a .914 save percentage. His confidence and poise earned him constant praise from his teammates and former head coach. What was most intriguing about Swayman, though, was that he never let a goal get to him. He’d just bounce back and be ready for the next shot on net.
The Bruins called upon Swayman in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the final five games in the first round against the Carolina Hurricanes. While Boston didn’t advance, Swayman posted a 3-2 record with a 2.63 GAA and a .911 save percentage.
If we had to take a guess, it’s Swayman’s net to lose come Oct. 12 when the Bruins open their season on the road against the Washington Capitals, but it all depends on how things go in training camp and the preseason.
The stakes were high for Ullmark when he signed with the Bruins last offseason after spending the first six seasons of his NHL career with the Buffalo Sabres. Ullmark proved to be reliable for the B’s with a 39-26-10 record — nearly identical to Swayman’s — a 2.45 GAA and .917 save percentage. The numbers as a whole were pretty similar to his teammates, but when it came to the playoffs, Ullmark struggled a bit against the Hurricanes. Through Games 1 and 2, the netminder posted an 0-2 record, 4.16 GAA and .860 save percentage.
But it’s Year 2 with the Bruins for both of them and with no uncertainty looming about another goalie coming back, the focus for both Ullmark and Swayman will be being ready for Opening Night. Maybe the two will split the duties evenly like they did last year, maybe one will emerge as a legitimate starter.
Whatever the case may be, what we can be sure of is that more goalie hugs are on the horizon.