- Tim Burke
Bruins Goaltending Is Key For Cup Run
On Friday night, the Bruins beat the 2X defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-1 in OT. The game had playoff intensity to it as both Boston and Tampa are currently fighting to avoid being a Wild Card team and hoping to win second or third in the division. Charlie Coyle’s OT heroics will be what fans remember from this game, but Linus Ullmark was phenomenal in net for the Bruins. Ullmark looked cool, calm, and collected in net against the Lightning, especially in the third period where Tampa really put the pressure on Ullmark and the Bruins’ defense. For a large portion of the third period, Tampa controlled possession of the puck and hemmed the Bruins to their own zone. It appeared inevitable that the Lightning would score the go-ahead goal at any moment of the third period, but Ullmark stood strong in net. With the Bruins in dire need for points in the standings at this time of the year, quality performances from whoever is in net are essential for the Bruins.
Given the opportunity, Ullmark may be the better goaltender in big games. It wouldn’t shock me if he was the Bruins’ starting goaltender for the playoffs. If Friday night is any indication, Ullmark is certainly capable of seeing more action for the Bruins, especially with every game being so important in this stretch. In my opinion, Ullmark was the biggest reason why the Bruins took the two points against Tampa Bay. Swayman has had a far superior season, but has looked rather shaky lately. Since March 1st, Bruins’ starting goaltender, Jeremy Swayman, has a .891 Save Percentage and a 3.10 Goals Against Average in 10 games. Since the Bruins’ embarrassing 6-4 loss to Toronto on March 29th, Swayman has looked extremely unconfident in all aspects of his game. At just 23 years-old, Swayman is clearly the future starting goaltender. However, growing pains are inevitable for a goalie with such little professional experience. After all, he played in less than 20 games at the pro-level before this season. With the games at the pace of a playoff level, it may make sense for an experienced, veteran goaltender such as Linus Ullmark to take the reins in net.
At the end of the day, the Bruins’ secret weapon in making a Stanley Cup run is their goaltending depth. Jeremy Swayman has been great for Boston for the majority of the season, and Ullmark is starting to look really solid in net. Two solid goalies is a good problem to have, especially for a team who wants to win the Stanley Cup. The Bruins’ depth at goaltending will clearly be a major X-factor come playoff time.