Ending their Monday with weighing the pros and cons of Jeremy Swayman or Daniel Vladar getting the call for Tuesday’s rematch with the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena, Bruce Cassidy and the Bruins have landed on the 6-foot-5 Vladar.
“Vladar’s gonna go in,” Cassidy confirmed Tuesday. “There was some discussion of Vladar vs. Swayman. I think they both played really well in Providence, but that’s what the goalie department decided, so that’s what we’re going to do and hopefully he’s ready to go. He certainly played well in Providence, had a little bit of a taste here, so let’s see what he’s got.”
Jaroslav Halak’s backup for the last four games, and with 70-plus more games of professional experience between Boston and Providence, Vladar also seemed to be the more likely option given that edge over Swayman. Even with Swayman’s perfect 7-0-0 record and .942 save percentage through his first seven games as a pro.
But Cassidy ultimately left that decision left that decision up to goaltending coach Bob Essensa, as well as Bruins development coach Mike Dunham, and Bruins general manager Don Sweeney.
“That decision is more the goalie coach’s management,” said Cassidy. “In Providence, [they] have those discussions, obviously with training camp, no exhibition games, we don’t get to see them a lot. So that’s a decision they made. Both would have been good options, but they decided on Vladar and hopefully he plays well.
“I can’t weigh too much on that because both those goaltenders have not played in the NHL other than Vladar getting some mop-up duty, which we all know was was a tough spot for him against a really good team in the playoffs. So we’re not going to judge him on that. We’re going to judge him on the resume. And the resumes are both very good. So then they’ve got to pick one and they’re comfortable with both. I think either one would have been a good call, but Vladar does have more experience. He’s been around longer. There’s that part of it, like he’s earned the right to get in there. And then there’s the argument, who’s gives us the best chance to win? And it might very well be going back to Jaro. but we don’t want to do that because in the long run we don’t think it’s beneficial to ride a goalie that hard.”
As Cassidy noted, it’s almost impossible to judge Vladar on his relief performance against the Stanley Cup champions. It was an absolute pounding from a team that simply overwhelmed the Bruins from all angles, and Vladar took a beating, with three goals allowed on 15 shots in under 29 minutes of work.
But Cassidy also knows that they can’t put Vladar in a similar situation tonight.
“We need to play well in front of him,” Cassidy said. “It’s a young goalie getting essentially his first start. So the mindset of our team has to be gotta protect them early on. He’s got to make the saves he’s supposed to, but we can’t be breaking down in front of them all night and force him to win a game for us.”