Bruce Cassidy is far more generous with his goalie information than some of his NHL coaching brethren, but the Boston Bruins’ bench boss does operate on his own schedule. As such, he has yet to announce his starting goalie for Saturday night’s season opener against Dallas. We’ll have to wait for Thursday or Friday for that bit of info.
Based off the performances of the two netminders in their preseason games, it would be a fairly big surprise if rookie Jeremy Swayman was not between the pipes at TD Garden on Saturday.
While much of the rookie goalie buzz has been gobbled up by former Boston College star Spencer Knight in Florida, Swayman is lying in the weeds as a legitimate Calder Trophy candidate. His preseason did nothing to dull the optimism he produced when he came up from Providence after just nine AHL games, posting a 7-3 record and .945 save percentage and 1.50 GAA.
Swayman, a former University of Maine star, sounded set to go.
“It was good to have a sort of normal start to the season this year,” said Swayman, who did not have the benefit of a real training camp last year. “It was great to have a ramp-up with camp, a lot of new guys, new faces and I think getting in some game action in early on was good, get the pace back, make sure I’m tracking pucks, communicating with my defense.”
The training camp experience was invaluable to him.
“I think it adds to the experience bank. It’s a huge thing,” said Swayman. “You hear all the veteran guys go through it and they’ve had so much experience with camps, just competing for jobs and seeing the process. I’m really excited about being a part of that process this year and know that it’s not guaranteed, you have to earn it every day.
“It’s something I know that I’ll keep as a positive and make sure that I’m running with it.”
Cassidy said that the breakdown of starts between Swayman and Linus Ullmark will be determined by competition. But he does expect that the first month will be close to a 50-50 split, though not necessarily as a strict every-other-game rotation.
“Getting work will be the biggest challenge (for both goaltenders),” said Cassidy. “We had six exhibition games, we have 10 days off, then (we don’t play again) till Wednesday. There’s not a lot of games early on with intensity, so it’s getting them work and keeping them sharp will be the challenge.
“Then digging inside of that, for Ullmark, it’s getting him accustomed to handling pucks.”
While Swayman may be ahead of Ullmark at this point, there’s little doubt that Cassidy and his goalie staff will do everything they can to get Ullmark up to speed. The four-year, $20 million contract is a testament to the Bruins’ belief in him. He’ll get every chance to succeed.
Swayman is not afraid of a little competition, and believes the tandem, however it plays out, will work.
“We are teammates, and that’s the best part about it all. We want what’s best for the team,” said Swayman.
“Everyone that wears the spoked B knows the same thing. It’s a high competitive locker room. We understand that when we compete against each other, it’s only going to make the team better.
“So I think that’s our mindset. Linus and I are great friends. He’s a great person. I love to compete with him every day and whatever we can do to help the team win, that’s what we’re going to do.