Boston Bruins: Jeremy Swayman should be starting goalie moving forward

Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Bruins overcame a rough start to the month of February to close things out with a 5-1 record over their final six games. The rough stretch came due to some key absences (such as Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand) and it wasn’t a surprise to see the team get back on track once everyone was available.

A nice five game win streak was interrupted with a deflating last-second loss at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks last night, and while the loss will sting, it shouldn’t take away from the progress that this team has made recently. The Bruins moved up to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference over the Washington Capitals during this little run, and with 28 games left, they are still within striking distance of every team that sits ahead of them as well.

We have seen some rejuvenated scoring performances from guys like Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak lately, as well as some solid overall defensive outings. But the goaltending has also seen a marked improvement, particualrly since Tuukka Rask announced his retirement. And while the duo of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman continue to switch in and out of net, it seems like it’s time to put an end to the rotation.

After earning the NHL’s Rookie of the Month honors, it’s time to turn the starting gig over to Swayman, rather than continue having the two swap places every couple of nights. Swayman has vastly outproduced Ullmark recently, and with the playoff run really beginning to pick up steam, Swayman gives the Bruins the best chance to make a big move up the standings.

The Boston Bruins would be wise to hand over the starting goalie job to Jeremy Swayman now

Swayman was dominant over seven starts in February, posting a 5-1-1 record with a .960 save percentage. He gave up an average of just 1.13 goals during the month, and he only allowed more than one goal in one of those seven games.

The 2021/22 campaign hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Swayman though. He struggled early on in the season, and was even sent to the Providence Bruins when Rask briefly attempted his comeback. But since he has returned to the big league club, Swayman has been about as good as it gets.

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While Swayman has been great, Ullmark’s struggles are a big reason this discussion is even being had. Ullmark has given up at least two goals in his last six starts, with the Boston Bruins only winning two of those games. His save percentage now sits at just .908 on the season, and he’s allowing nearly three goals per game at this point.

Both have been serviceable for most of the season, and the reason they continued to switch out of net was because neither of them ran away with the starting job. But now Swayman has started to find his form, and there’s really no sense in leaving him on the sidelines while Ullmark goes and coughs up games like he did last night against the Ducks.

The Bruins slow start to the season has put them in a bit of a bind currently, as they have been viciously fighting to make their way back to the top of the East standings all season long. And while they have done that to an extent, they would still have a fairly unfavorable matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning if the season ended today. It’s important to keep moving up the standings, and Swayman gives you the best chance of earning two points each game.

Now this isn’t to say that Ullmark should be completely ostracized, but it’s time to give Swayman the inside track to the job now. It would probably be best to operate under the 1A-1B pretense that Rask and Jaroslav Halak used to be employed under. Swayman has been the better goalie lately, but it doesn’t mean that Ullmark has lost all his value.

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Both will be immensely valuable come playoff time, but in order for the postseason to be successful, the Bruins are going to need to move up the standings a few more spots. Making Swayman the starting goalie would help accomplish that. The Boston Bruins have proven they have a shot to do something special this season, but they are going to need a more stable goalie situation, and right now, Swayman is their best option for the rest of the season.